As Tallmadge’s school year starts, there are many glaring differences and changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. One of those big changes is the 1100 hallway, more specifically who is in that hallway.
In an attempt to maintain social distancing protocols, the Tallmadge School District decided to move eighth grade to the high school. In order to do this, the entire grade has been segregated to the history hallway with the rule set in place that no high school student can enter that hallway.
Teacher Mark Verrona, who moved into teacher Jon Shomo’s room, believes that his students are adapting very well to the drastic change that came with coming to the high school a year early.
“I have been really impressed with the positive attitudes I have seen. I’m sure it was intimidating moving to a building where they are with students who are up to four or five years older than they are,” Verrona said. “We have asked them to be patient and flexible and that’s exactly what they have given us and more. I really feel they are aware of the situation behind the move and are accepting of the changes that needed to be made. I hope they continue with their willingness to embrace these changes, making the best out of a rough situation.”
The teachers found out that they were moving to the high school back in early July.
“I knew there would be changes to this upcoming school year but that conference call really hit home about how many adaptations were going to be made going forward,” Verrona said.
In order for these changes to happen, many high school teachers had to make a year-long sacrifice and offered their rooms for the cause. One of those teachers is history teacher Jarod Taylor, who’s room is now occupied by teacher Audrey Cunert. Taylor is now stationed in the choir room.
“There’s been some different things that I’ve had to change in this room. I had to cover up the mirror. The projector actually shoots up onto the brick wall. I probably also need to decorate my new room a little bit more,” Taylor said. “I wanted to focus more on my lessons and getting used to this digital stuff first before I go to decorating.”
Taylor’s students have also had some adjusting to do, as some of them are returning students of his from freshman year.
“(My students) seem to be okay with it. Some of them who I had freshman year are coming back here and having to get used to me in a new space, but they’re handling it very well,” Taylor said.
Many challenges come with moving eighth graders to the high school.
“Trying to keep (eighth grade) separate from the rest of the school is definitely a challenge. I think Mr. Gnabah, who’s in charge of guardian the stairs, is doing an amazing job keeping high schoolers from going down that hallway,” Taylor said, “but (the eighth graders) are still moving about the school and interacting with high school students, and in the grand scheme of things I think that’s okay.”
As this weird and unprecedented year continues, many struggles and obstacles have come, but Tallmadge students and teachers alike are working together to overcome those challenges and continue the school year.
Taylor said, “I’m sure the eighth grade teachers have to adjust, having just gotten into their new building and then having to pack up and move (to the high school) is rough. My grievances are little compared to theirs.”