McKinley ohana forced to adapt around COVID-19


By McKinley High School

McKinley High School has closed its doors on Mar. 16 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

An Vo

On March 15, everything changed. That afternoon, the Department of Education ordered spring break extended one week because the COVID-19 virus was infecting people worldwide. Eventually, schools were closed for the year and residents were ordered to stay at home. That meant many changes for the McKinley High School community.

One change was remote learning.

Learning from home creates many roadblocks. Natasha Taketa-Kim teaches piano and chorus. For piano, she said having access to the pianos for her piano class was a big barrier.

“Not everyone has a piano at home,” she said.

Taketa-Kim said remote learning for chorus was also difficult because not everyone had the materials at their homes and learning a piece as a large ensemble was difficult over the internet.

“Sure, we can learn the song individually and from listening and copying from a recording if I post it, but you don’t have that feeling of being a part of an ensemble,” she said.

An example of not having the feeling of being a part of an ensemble was the iHeart radio living room concert hosted by Sir Elton John. Taketa-Kim said all the musicians sang and recorded themselves individually and then someone edited it all together to make it seem like they were singing together.

“In spirit they are, but it’s not the same as being in the same room or being on a concert stage in front of your fans,” she said.

Taketa-Kim’s plan for her students, aside from the supplemental lessons, was to provide calming music, uplifting videos, and reminders that she posted on Google Classroom.

“Many students are unable to go for a walk around the neighborhood or go to a park or beach since they’re all closed. The less we venture out, the better,” she said. “If I can give them a video here and there that might make them feel a bit calmer, entertained, or relaxed, that’d be great; and of course, little reminders about washing hands and staying six-feet away from other people.”

Junior Tracee Nguyen, student body corresponding secretary, said a lot of students were bored and sad by having to stay home for a long period of time.

“Students like me are getting more distracted and unmotivated since we aren’t at school,” she said. “A few friends of mine have been calling each other to work together.”

Nguyen said she has been keeping up with school via remote learning and attending meetings for student government.

“The difficult part of this would definitely have to be keeping myself from all the distractions at home,” she said. “An unexpected benefit would be the chance to sleep in more.”

Counselor Lisa Panquites said she used Instagram, Google Classroom and email to let McKinley’s students know that the counselors were still available for them in case they needed help or had questions and concerns.

“It is hard for us to plan for something that keeps changing,” she said. “It’s just a matter of being flexible and considering many different possibilities as we know things will change.”

Panquites had to do her work while also taking care of her own family.

“As a parent, I’ve been trying to get my counseling work done while finding work for my teenagers to do so their brains don’t get too lazy,” she said.

Taketa-Kim said the last quarter of the year is usually the most emotional with bittersweet events such as prom, senior nights for sports, banquets, final concerts, and of course–graduation, grad-nite, and graduation parties.

“These are times that students can never get back or still have it as they’ve always dreamt it would be,” she said.

Despite the worries and difficulties, sophomore Ryan Vanairsdale agreed with the DOE’s decision.

“While coronavirus is not especially severe in children, schools act as petri dishes,” Vanairsdale said. “By the time we have one case in school, we probably have so many more undetected. It’s important to act before we feel the need to.”

Since, even in summer, Hawaii residents will probably have to spend more time at home than usual, one thing people can do to ease the struggle of staying at home is to spend time with family and talking with elders to learn a little about how they lived during their youth or what kind of adventures they went through.

“You may be surprised when you learn that they may have been in a war, or when they had a time of famine or were separated from their families,” Taketa-Kim said. “Maybe you’ll find something funny like how or why you were named with the names you’re given, or that maybe your grandparents were an arranged marriage or a picture bride. There’s so much you can learn if you just ask or take the time.”

Tigers can also do as Nguyen did. She said her way of managing stress is by talking to friends.

“I actually got to get back in touch with old friends and I made a few new ones too,” she said.

Another way to be entertained while being restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic is to enjoy nature by listening to the birds, watching a lizard crawl in search of food or water, looking at the flowers and grass, breathing in the air while watching the wind blow through the thicket, and listening to rain as it comes down. Taketa-Kim said people should observe nature to feel calmed by the way it cleanses the earth.

“There’s so much serenity in what’s around us,” she said. “We live in paradise, so enjoy it.”

Finding a hobby outside of selfies and social media is one of the ways people can find joy in doing. Taketa-Kim recommends doing a craft or gardening project instead of spending so much time on the internet. Taketa-Kim said she sewed masks to help health care workers who are in the front line.

“Just remember to stick within our guidelines to prevent the coronavirus from spreading,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to cry or express your frustration in a positive way. We all are human after all, and we have the right to feel those negative things, too.”

Panquites said the coronavirus pandemic will have unexpected benefits once it’s been resolved.

“I do believe when we look back at this, we will be able to find some good that came out of it,” she said.

Changes in structure and information were made on 5/18/2020.