By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac High prepares for longer break

Suzanne Sayles
Suzanne Sayles
Kelly Carlson
Kelly Carlson

Despite the governor’s late-night Thursday announcement that schools would close, Friday was a fairly normal day at McMinnville High School.

Many students didn’t seem fazed, said Suzanne Sayles, who teaches leadership and other classes.

“Kids seemed to know already,” Sayles said.

Still, she and other teachers, such as Kelly Carlson, were scrambling to prepare students for upcoming testing as well as losing a week of classes. Mac High’s administrative team and the school district were being supportive of their efforts, as well as those of the school’s 2,200 students, they said.

“Everyone is really concerned that students’ needs are addressed,” Sayles said.

Carlson added students were concerned for each other and for staff members, as well.

“Caring for each other right now is a big priority,” she said. 

Earlier in the week, the governor ordered schools to cancel large-group gatherings, such as assemblies, competitions and activities. That was hard news to take, Sayles said, especially for leadership students who had numerous pre-spring break activities.

They also had planned an assembly to recognize student athletes and others who participated in activities during the winter term. After the governor’s announcement about gatherings, Sayles said, leadership students quickly devised alternative ways to recognize students. But with the early closure, they won’t be able to carry out those plans either.

They will have to figure out something different when school resumes in April, she said.

Not being able to have assemblies is a real blow at Mac High, students and teachers said, since the school was just getting used to having regular gatherings again after being without a gym for a year.

The main gym, nicknamed The Furnace, was razed at the end of the 2017-18 school year and a new gym was built during 2018-19. A few assemblies were held at Wortman Stadium, but when weather became cold and rainy, that venue was not an option, as well.

Students were thrilled to resume assemblies in September. They have loved attending athletic competitions and other activities in the gym, as well, teachers said.

“It creates a lot of camaraderie, and it’s a good way to communicate with everyone,” Sayles said. “We looked forward to it. Now, without that platform, we have to figure out something else.”

Students said they plan to keep in touch with each other via their cell phones and social media. Carlson and Sayles said having those communication tools is a mixed blessing.

“We want to be able to communicate in a timely manner, but social media also allows rumors to spread,” Sayles said. “Even some students say social media can be dangerous.”



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