‘I need a teacher!’

Chelsea High seniors grapple with the loss of activities, struggle to focus

When Shakaya Moore-Perkins heard that school was going to be closed through the spring in mid-March, she said she was happy because she always wanted to do more learning online.

Just one week into it though, the Chelsea High senior is struggling with focus, technology and just really wants a teacher and classmates.

“I always wanted to do online classes and I thought I’d love school being closed and going online,” she said this week. “I am struggling a week later because I realized I needed a teacher a no one knows what’s going on. I need a teacher with me and I need classmates. If I as in college, I think this is what it might be like because they always say you are on your own. I know people need to finish their large projects right now so they can graduate and I’m trying to do that, but it’s hard. I need to finish so I can get my financial aid package.”

Moore-Perkins is an active student at CHS, and also an athlete on the track team. When she isn’t at school, she is dedicated to the ECO Youth team at GreenRoots. All of that life is seemingly on pause for Moore-Perkins and her classmates, particularly the seniors.

One thing on everyone’s mind, she said, is prom. 

No one is sure what will happen with prom, and it isn’t yet canceled but some say the writing is on the wall.

“I was looking forward to prom so much,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t buy my prom dress yet. I did have a budget for it though. I have friends who have dresses that cost $750 and they already put down-payments on them. They spent like $400 and can’t get it back. They can’t return them either. Many of my friends had set up make-up and hair appointments back in February. Now we don’t know and we probably won’t have it. Prom is next month and there isn’t a vaccine now and having 100 people in a room is maybe not a good idea these days.”

Graduation is also on her mind, she said.

“I wanted to walk across that stage,” she said. “I wanted my uncle and aunt to be there for it too. I hope we have it and I hope they are healthy enough to come if we do have it.”

Supt. Almi Abeyta said everything is up in the air now, particularly for the seniors.

“It’s unfortunate our seniors are going through this because it’s their last days in high school,” she said. “We do still plan on having graduation. I don’t know when it will be. I’d like for it to be at the end of June. Whether it’s June, July or August, we’ll do something.”

She said she hopes that the community might be able to come together when the COVID-19 response is lessened in order to honor a special group of CHS seniors that lost out on many of the best parts of their last year.

“I know our Chelsea community is an amazing community and would support our seniors in any way it can,” she said. “It’s just a matter of not knowing how long we’ll be in this situation.”

But for Moore-Perkins right now, the pressure is to complete difficult work alone, and in an environment where technology glitches can set students back several days – causing them to miss critical deadlines.

Moore-Perkins wants to be a high school social worker and is currently taking college classes (English and Statistics) at Bunker Hill Community College. She had planned to continue her education there in the fall and maybe transfer later on. However, right now she needs to pass her English class, she said, in order to make sure her financial aid package for next fall stays intact.

That was made all the more difficult this week when her phone broke.

“On Monday my phone broke and I had an important essay due,” she said. “My teacher extended the deadline but my phone was broken and I didn’t have any of the log-ins or security questions. I couldn’t do any homework that entire time. Finally I got my phone fixed.”

Meanwhile, she said her guidance counselor and social worker from CHS have been in daily contact, and the ChromeBook at home from school with a new internet connection have been helpful.

Still though, she said, “I need my teachers back.”

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