Iowa counties with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection are home to large meat packing plants. Part of a collaborative reporting project called “Lesson Plans: Rural schools grapple with COVID-19” in partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News and several member newsrooms.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism – IowaWatch.org has been selected as a partner to report on how COVID-19 is changing and challenging rural school districts, the Institute for Nonprofit News reported. It is IowaWatch’s third reporting collaboration in the past year. “Our goal is to look at the smaller districts that have fewer resources and how they are meeting the challenges of learning during a global pandemic,” said Executive Director Suzanne Behnke. The Walton Family Foundation is providing a grant that will allow IowaWatch and other collaboration members, El Paso Matters, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico In-Depth, Scalawag, Underscore Media and Wisconsin Watch, to report and write on rural schools in their respective states during the 2020-2021 school year. The project will produce three reports by IowaWatch and by each member over the six months of the grant, at the start of the school year, toward the middle of the fall and a last installment toward the end of 2020.
Give an extra tug on your seatbelt. The next couple of months will be rough ones. The new school year starts in a few weeks. Not surprisingly, with the coronavirus still sickening and killing people in Iowa, what normally is a time of much excitement has become a time of great anxiety. Our president has said he expects students to be back in the classroom for in-person learning in every school in America. If schools do not comply, he has threatened to withhold their federal education aid.
In late May, when video began circulating of George Floyd trapped under the knee of a police officer, struggling to breathe, it was the latest reminder of America’s failure to address the racism and brutality that pervades U.S. policing. For those who train and educate law enforcement officials, Floyd’s death — along with the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and other Black Americans — was also a moment of reckoning, prompting some of those educators to examine their role in preparing officers for a profession responsible for so much senseless violence. In Virginia, where community colleges enrolled some 2,200 students last year in programs designed to train law enforcement officials, school system administrators decided it was time to review their curricula for future officers. Across the country, in California, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the state’s community college system, called for a similar examination of police training. A few college police academies announced their own reviews.
ByJesse Hausknecht-Brown, Natalie Dunlap, Marta Leira, Kailey Gee and Alex Carlon |
Looking back, Jazsime Vanpelt wishes she could have done her freshman and sophomore years differently. Checking her grades multiple times a day, loading too many extracurriculars onto her schedule and unnecessary pressure to do well in school created stress and anxiety in and outside of the classroom. Jazsime Vanpelt, Iowa City High School student (Photo by Jhakyra Banister)
The pressure wasn’t from Vanpelt’s parents. She did it to herself, the Iowa City High School senior said. “I would like to freak out if my grades went down, even a little bit,” Vanpelt, 17, said.
Making good grades is but one of several pressures high school students interviewed for a new IowaWatch High School journalism project said.
The word “college” stresses many high school students, whether or not their resume has enough activities on it, if they have a high enough ACT score, the change of living on their own, or when their applications are due.
And, because someone — them, their families — has to pay for it.
“It makes me feel bad and burdensome because I know that my parents are really stressed about money in general, and I know they want to support me,” Marina Beachy, a senior at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman, said in an IowaWatch high school journalism project about pressure Iowa high school students face. Pressure when picking a college came up often in that project, conducted in the first three months of 2020 by student journalists at City and West High schools in Iowa City working with their teachers and IowaWatch. Money is a big reason for the stress. ABOUT THIS PROJECT
High School Pressure is an IowaWatch High School journalism collaboration with the award-winning Iowa City high school newpapers The Little Hawk and West Side Story, at City High School and West High School, respectively. Journalists who produced this project, working with IowaWatch’s Lyle Muller and their journalism teachers, were:
Natalie Dunlap, West HighMarta Leira, West HighAlex Carlon, West HighKailey Gee, West HighShoshanna Hemley, City HighJesse Hausknecht-Brown, City HighNina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos, City HighJulianne Berry-Stoelzle, City High
Teachers assisting in this project are Sara Whittaker, West High School, and Jonathan Rogers, City High.This project was supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Johnson County.
High school sophomores and juniors around the country check what they received when preliminary scholastic aptitude test scores — better known as PSAT scores — are posted in December.
The “what did you get?” and “did you do better than me?” questions follow. Jenny Geng, Iowa City West High School student (Photo provided Jenny Geng)
“I hate the comparison of test scores,” Jenny Geng, 16, a junior at Iowa City West High School, said. “It makes them feel bad about themselves,” she said about students she knows. “But you can’t stop it and it’s going to happen,” she said. “I don’t like it.”
Competition in high school is producing stress for high school students in many aspects of their lives. High school students participating in an IowaWatch high school journalism project this year rattled off a list of ways they compete with one another: how your body looks, social life, academics.
READ THESE STORIES:GRADES, FRIENDS, COMPETITION: THEY STRESS OUR HIGH SCHOOLERS MORE THAN YOU MIGHT THINKCOMPETING FOR SO MANY REASONS IN HIGH SCHOOL, NOT ALL OF THEM GOODCOLLEGE-BOUND, BUT FEELING PRESSURE ABOUT IT IN HIGH SCHOOL
ByJackson Schulte/IowaWatch and The Scarlet & Black |
GRINNELL, Iowa – Some Grinnell College seniors have chosen to finish their undergraduate days by staying in town, even though the college sent most of their peers home for the rest of the school year and canceled the spring graduation ceremony because of COVID-19. They’re staying in town for a variety of reasons but mainly to continue living in homes for which they’re contractually obligated to pay rent and to make their final months as seniors feel meaningful. “My
rent here is paid, it’s sort of a sunk cost,” Pete Zelles, 22, a senior from
St. Paul, Minnesota, said. “I realized that the majority of my friends are
staying because they’re in the same position.