Josie and Kaylee Graves photo

(L-R) Sisters Josie and Kaylee Graves.

After last spring’s school shutdown of in-person schooling due to COVID-19, families needed to decide how to approach their children’s education last fall. Some chose in-person school, some online school through Clearwater Valley High School, while others chose different online school programs. Sports and extracurricular activities have had some challenges, also.

While most families chose the same learning style for all of their children, Doug and Susan Graves’ daughters, Josie and Kaylee, took different paths this year. Since the family lives with Doug’s mother, they were “trying to keep Grandma safe,” according to Josie.

Josie, a 7th grader, registered through the K12 program of the Idaho Virtual Academy, an online public charter school. Susan Graves, Josie’s mom, said that demand for the virtual school increased this year from 400 students last year to 2,000 students this year. When they registered, Josie was disappointed that basic courses were available, but electives were not. Susan filled in the gaps, signing up Josie for some private lessons so she could continue with art, trumpet, guitar and PE training.

Josie admits staying home for school was a challenge at first, since both of her parents have also been working at home. She carved out a second floor space where she could focus. She has missed seeing her friends in class, but the start of volleyball and 4-H in January provide more social interaction. She took an online volleyball camp to keep her skills up describing that “I filmed my exercises and sent them in” to get feedback.

After family members had COVID-19 earlier this winter, and the whole family quarantined, Graves could have returned to CV after the holidays.

“I don’t want to leave things partly done,” Josie said, so intends to finish the school year at K12 and return to CV in the fall.

Her older sister, Kaylee, a freshman at CV, thought it was important to attend in-person school.

“I wanted to be with friends; we learn better with everyone else,” she said.

Kaylee described that when CV sent students home last March to online school, “I didn’t learn very well, I got distracted.” Toward the end of volleyball season she had to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. After that she said in person school has proceeded pretty normally with 1-2 kids missing at a time. When you don’t see a student for a couple of weeks, you know they are probably quarantining.

Kaylee said she particularly enjoys Japanese class, a new offering at CVHS this year with the hiring of math teacher, Mr. Syngajewski. She enjoys learning the language, culture, geography, the difference in diets and different point of view of WW 2 history.

CVHS junior Emma Knapton began the school year attending in-person school, but later switched to online school after the entire volleyball team quarantined at the end of the season last fall. She describes both pros and cons to the arrangement.

“You have to set your own learning schedule and you have to be more disciplined,” Knapton said. She also noted, “I have more time to do my homework and take time for myself.”

Knapton said that most of her classes were already Idaho Distance Learning Academy (IDLA), so it was not hard to transition to online classes. She noted that both Japanese (taught via Google classrooms) and chemistry via Google meet.

“Sometimes the Internet is not working and you also miss a lot of hands-on work.” As student body vice-president and a member of National Honor Society, Knapton said, “It is hard to keep informed on what is going on in the school when you are learning from home.” She attends meetings for both groups through Zoom.

Senior Preston Amerman attends in-person school and has not needed to quarantine. A multi-sport athlete, Amerman said that cross-country season (he was 18th at state) was pretty normal, but indoor sports (he is currently playing basketball) has had some challenges. His mother, Carolyn Amerman, said although she and Roger, Preston’s dad, like to attend his sporting events, during the early part of the basketball season, only one parent could attend (though this has expanded to 40 percent of the gym’s capacity).

“I thought it would be weird to play in an empty gym,” Preston said, “but the parents who attend the games are pretty loud, so we still have crowd noise.”

Amerman said that band is different this year because he needs to keep a cloth over the end of the trombone, to avoid dispersing spit — “Basically the trombone is wearing a mask.” Earlier this winter, the band and choir held a virtual concert. He said, “for my senior project, I am composing a piece for the band to play.”

He is glad for the start of the spring play, where he is a technician and has a small speaking part. Although Amerman wishes they were doing a musical, as they have in recent years, he describes the play as a “comedic western.” He is hopeful they can perform for an in-person audience.

Outside of school, the family is disappointed Preston is not able to participate in Nez Perce Tribal ceremonies at the longhouse near their home due to the tribe’s caution about COVID-19.

“It is sad not to be able to do longhouse ceremonies,” Preston said. “I’ve been going to the longhouse since I was six.” Roger wishes Preston could do his first kill ceremony before he goes off to college.

Although nearly all of senior Paige Morrow’s classes are online, one LCSC and three IDLA classes, Morrow chooses to go to school every day because it helps her concentrate on her studies. In the afternoons, she attends a CNA clinical lab at Kamiah High School. She is hopeful that this spring she will be able to have some work experience in a clinic that is normally part of the CNA class. Morrow said she has made good use of the $4,125 she was allotted for IDLA classes and plans to graduate with 56 college credits.