Santiago Students Review Their First Week Back


The Shark Attack Staff, Staff Writer

Santiago High School resumed in-person instruction on March 22.  Students began arriving on campus as early as 6:45 a.m. – bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to start the day.  Teachers greeted their “new” students at their classroom doors, some of them seeing the faces of their students for the first time.  The Shark Attack Staff surveyed close to 400 students about their first week back to school: the results were overwhelmingly positive!  If you didn’t get a chance to take our survey, here’s a link to it.

On a scale of 1-5, 50% of students reported that they were excited to be back on campus!  Despite having to wake up earlier, put on real clothes, students were still excited to return to campus.  Maybe it was to see their friends.  Maybe it was to learn from their teachers.  Regardless of the reason – just being back on campus was clearly enjoyed by most.

When asked a similar question about whether students preferred in-person learning over remote learning, the results were more even with 34% of students preferring remote learning and 44% preferring in-person learning (The remaining students didn’t prefer one over the other).  We are also happy to report that 70% of Santiago students are confident that they will pass all of their classes this year!

When asked if they believe that their teachers really cared about them, over half of the students agreed!

We assumed that students would be able to more easily connect with their friends while being on campus, yet the data was split across the middle.  There seemed to be no identifiable trend to suggest that in-person learning impacted the peer connections on campus, which seemed to be one of the original goals of the return to campus.

Always a controversial topic: Independent Work.  A little over half (54.6%) of the students surveyed felt that the amount of independent work assigned by teachers during the week was too much.  Only three students reported received too little work.  Big surprise!  Additionally, a good amount of students said that they would be taking full advantage of Office Hours provided by their teachers during the week.

Another interesting thing to note is that students didn’t seem to feel that the quality of instruction changed since being on campus.  We can contribute this to two things: teachers were equally awesome online or teachers spent the first week with “get to know you” activities that the students didn’t feel were super valuable.

One thing we can agree on is that COVID-19 impacted the emotional state of most Santiago students.  Over half of surveyed students said that they experienced serious anxiety and emotional distress during the past year, yet only 40% of students said that in-person instruction improved their overall mental well-being.  This leaves us to wonder, what can we do to repair and mollify the emotional well-being of our peers?  It is important to note though, that 72% of students reported that they feel safe with the health precautions put into place at Santiago.

In the last part of the survey, we asked some short answer questions.  Here are the highlights (responses are copy/pasted – and yes, we know we included a lot, but there are so many awesome things to share):

One thing a teacher/admin/counselor/staff member did that brightened my day was: 

  • Mrs. Wanis my Spanish teacher talking to me after class and making sure I was personally ok.
  • All of my teachers took their time out to acknowledge everyone by name.
  • Say that they appreciate me being there.
  • All of my teachers being so welcoming!!
  • Gave me an extension on an assignment
  • ask me how i was feeling and actually listened to me!
  • They asked about our life during COVID, how excited they were to see us in person, and shared funny stories about their experiences.
  • My AP Stats teacher made us feel really comfortable about being in class because he knew that this was stressful and anxious for us
  • A teacher asked me to write about how I was doing so that they knew what they could do to help.
  • Mr Spencer congratulated me on getting into UCLA and told me I am a special/unique student.
  • Ms. Tilton offered us coffee, even though i dont drink coffee i really appreciate her trying to help us out. She also let me use her district thinkpad when my computer wasnt working and i really appreciated it. Ms. Wright gave us all snowflakes with our names on them and it made me so happy!
  • Coach D has been great with not creating a stressful week back and has given us a fair a doable amount of work in and outside of class
  • We played a fun vocabulary game instead of immediately getting into worksheets in Mr. Hathaway’s class, and Ms. Krueger showed off the stickers she’s been waiting to use all year on our papers.
  • During my P.E. class with Mrs. Irvin I felt as if I could really connect with her and share how I was with her. It also helped that she allowed me to talk to her, as I don’t have any friends in that period for my cohort.
  • Mrs. Sullivan has Daisy that’s the only good thing.
  • I’m not the best student due to anxiety so I didn’t always show up to my online classes, but when I was there at APES in person Mr. Spencer didn’t make me feel ashamed for not always showing up online instead he just expressed how excited he was to see me. 🙂
  • Mr. Vanramhorst told a joke that was kinda funny
  • mr Vanramshorst call me brilliant in an email and that made my day
  • Señora Wanis whipped out a broom and swept the negativity out of the room and was my favorite class to be in.
  • Mrs. Watson most positive teacher ever, the only teacher that pumps ours sports medicine class up and ready for school
  • Ms. Plebani’s friendly & optimistic personality on the first day was what helped ease me from nervousness of going back. She’s awesome, she always cares about students’ lives & well-being & turns any bad day into a better one!!
  • On the first day Mr. Crawford started the day off by using the Star Wars theme song to introduce Portia from Julius Caesar.
  • Mr Dudek and Mr Gangemi, the Band directors, are always making sure that their students are happy and that their mental health’s are in good shape when students are in their classes.
  • Mrs.Urley my AVID teacher is amazing she is trying her best to do everything for us and I appreciate it very much
  • when mr torres was in the front of the school greeting people!
  • Two things that brightened up my day was the emotional support dog, excited teachers, and staff
  • Mrs. Momaney. She was so uplifting after i had been stressed out about coming back to school.
  • When Mr. Brasington talked to us in class and actually wanted to know about us and what we do.
  • My math teacher Mrs. Thompson really helped me in office hours understand the how to do a lesson i was having trouble on.
  • The security guard Mr. Perez acknowledged me and talked for a quick minute and it made my day feeling noticed.


I want to see the following from my teachers over the next 8 weeks:

  • I want my teachers to be better organized especially because we are doing work in person AND online.
  • Non academic related activities like getting to know our peers and getting close to the teachers, something we haven’t been able to do over zoom
  • I want my teachers to feel like they have autonomy and satisfaction with their job – I haven’t seen that ye
  • t and I think that needs to change.
  • Tell me more about themselves so we can connect more !
  • Understanding and effort, this is hard on everyone
  • I hope they don’t push us too hard because we are just getting into swing of things and almost done with this year, want to end this year on a good note not a stressful one.
  • Patience, empathy, support but motivation (pushing students) as well
  • extend the due dates of the homework to Sundays instead of Fridays, be mindful of students willingness to interact socially in class, and go into more depth on the independent assignments.
  • Teach everything we did, but also make it enjoyable. It’s our first time being back at school in over a year. My senior year is going to be something I regret for the rest of my life because of the pandemic so now that things are changing, I just hope they make the most of the time they have.
  • Their understanding, and their review of school work to ensure we completely understand instructions in person so we are not struggling.
  • I want to see their excitement of teaching as they had on the days that I have gone to school.
  • show that they care about our mental health and not give busy work
  • Clear instructions.


As we finish our second week of in-person education in over a year, we want to remind you SHARKS to reflect on where you’ve been this past year and all that you’ve experienced and accomplished.  If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we won’t be able to predict what the next 8 weeks will bring, but finish strong, finish with heart and finish with pride, SHARKS.

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