Feeling for the fifth graders

Elementary students miss out on lasts


Photo courtesy of Cassie Jetter

Fifth grader Anna Jetter sits in her bed and does her online learning. She has missed her friends and teachers during her time away from school.

Kaitlyn Willard, Editor-in-Chief

Amidst this pandemic, many people are doing what they can for high school seniors as they did not get to experience the last part of high school. However, seniors are not the only ones missing out on important lasts.

After six long years of elementary school, the fifth graders get to look forward to end-of-the-year field trips, special school functions in honor of their final year and a fifth-grade graduation. Unfortunately for these students, the last nine weeks were stripped away from them. Reagan Elementary fifth-grader Anna Jetter was one of many looking forward to the grade-specific festivities 

“Since it was our last year we had tons of things planned,” Jetter said. “We had a staff vs. students basketball game and we were supposed to go to the bowling alley. And, our fifth-grade graduation was canceled.”

Thursday, March 12, the elementary students were told to take everything home, including their iPads, in case they would not be returning to school. Since then, they have not returned.

“I was really hoping we would just go back after Spring Break and finish out the year,” Jetter said. “All my friends want to go back, too. We were all really upset when we found out school was canceled for the rest of the year because everyone wanted to go back and do all the things we are supposed to do at the end of the year, and now we can’t.”

When the announcement was made that there would be no more school for the remainder of the year, many students in their final year of school realized what that meant. They will never step inside their alma mater as a student again.

“I believe psychologically people need closure,” Millard Superintendent Dr. Jim Sutfin said. “If I’m a fifth-grader and my last day of school was the Thursday before Spring Break and I never go back to that building, I might not have that closure that I need.”

Until that closure, learning still remains in session. State testing and a field trip to their future middle school were canceled. This meant that teachers had to step up to help acclimate their fifth-graders as well as possible for their transitioning year into middle school. Reagan Elementary fifth-grade teacher Michael Kracl has been remaining positive for the students and helping to prepare them for sixth grade. 

“I think in some regards this will be a benefit to the students moving to middle school,” Kracl said. “Of course, those jitters and butterflies will probably be even more evident this year with the way this school year is ending. Nonetheless, I know that they are going to be even more equipped to handle the changes that middle school brings to all in a normal year. I’m encouraging them to see this pandemic as an opportunity to see just all that they are capable of when faced with adversity.”

With these trying times, students could use some positivity. Many elementary schools organized parades for their students to show how much they miss them. Personally, for his class, Kracl has been making online schooling a bit more fun for his students by incorporating costumes into lessons and also allowing their weekly Zoom times to share about how each of the students are doing.

“We’ve had to cut our morning meetings to just once a week, but during that time we pretty much just hang out and we can talk about anything they want,” Kracl said. “I really feel that it’s my job to create as close to the engagement I strive for in this distance learning. The costumes and silly antics are used simply because I work with kids. During all of this, if me throwing on a George Washington costume, or spending a little extra time using greenscreens can bring a smile to their faces and get them to learn along the way, that’s all I can ask for.”

The next time these fifth graders will get to experience important lasts will be in their eighth-grade year. Jetter remains hopeful that maybe something can be done in the summer for her class.

“I just want them to do something in the summertime,” Jetter said. “Maybe we could go somewhere or have a pool party.”

Fifth-graders will have their last day of online classes on May 14. After that, they officially become middle schoolers and will have lockers and multiple classes to look forward to. Although they, unfortunately, will miss out on a few lasts, new beginnings are in the near future for these students.