Each school in the county has different expectations from the students before leaving the 12th grade, but principals from each school feel confident that their seniors are striving to satisfy their goals.
Colusa High School senior projects have been modified with elimination of essay grading and presentation requirements. Pierce High School’s community service is not required this year, nor is Maxwell High School seniors required to do their assigned project.
“We have about 25 seniors so it is a little easier for us to keep seniors on target with their distance learning,” said Zach Thurman, superintendent of the Maxwell Unified School District and principal of Maxwell High School.
With the graduation stakes being high, there have been struggles for the young adults.
Dave Vujovich, Pierce High School’s principal, said that internet reliability has been a drawback. He also said that at first, some of the students were not responding but once they gained access to the distance learning, they hit the ground running.
Some students are even taking advantage of online credit recovery, and Vujovich anticipates every senior to successfully complete the school year.
“They’re just working their tails off,” he said. “We haven’t had to do many enticements to get people working because they have taken what they’ve entered that adult world. They’re just great kids, they’re resilient. And they got great role models in their parents and teachers.”
One student had emailed Vujovich saying that he didn’t even get a chance to catch “Senioritis,” an affliction that often presents as a lack of motivation or declining academic performance.
Colusa High School students have been given an option to opt for a credit/incomplete or they could choose to receive a final letter grade, which works for students that want to bring up their grade point average.
One CHS senior, who hopes to join the Naval Academy, took that option to bring up GPA for a competitive edge.
Also, third quarter progress grades were preserved so students could be held harmless and the grades not reduced in the second semester, according to the directive for the CUSD grading policy, which was put into effect during COVID-19 school closures.
Students at Colusa High School that opted for “pass or no pass” said that they were struggling with motivation.
“What is really the motivation factor behind students doing the work?” asked Kelsea Whiting, on behalf of her fellow classmates. “If they don’t do it, there’s no punishment…that’s the one thing that I know a lot of students are really struggling; having that motivation to keep going.”
While the Colusa Unified School District staff are assisting the students to the highest degree possible, students are expected to take ownership of their future.
“The only thing I can say is this is preparation for real life,” said Melissa Yerxa Ortiz, CUSD board president. “It’s going to happen sooner or later, unfortunately it’s happening sooner for all of our students out there.”
CHS Principal Josh Mason said these situations are extremely unprecedented.
“You have to take advantage of your own learning; take advantage of the experiences that are presented to you and make the best of it,” he advised his students.
Mason added that all of the CUSD staff are working to support the students as much as possible. “We’re going to try and work with every single student, and just try and get them across that finish line,” he said. “We’re going to give them every opportunity to get there.”