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How school is going one month in at Sunnyside High School

Students and staff are finally feeling like school has shifted back to normal since the pandemic.
Students at Sunnyside High School
Posted at 3:54 PM, Sep 09, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It's a month into the school year at Sunnyside High School.

For students and staff, this is the first year with no disruptions from the pandemic.

Senior Hakima Abdulkadir is the Student Council Senior President and the Black Student Union President. She explained how even though last year was back in person, it wasn’t the same.

“You would expect it to feel normal but it didn’t,” she said.

She said students weren’t as involved in school activities, but from what she’s seen so far, this year is different.

“For me, I feel like we’ve exceeded normal,” said Abdulkadir.

She said students are getting involved and attitudes are changing.

“Now, everyone is taking part in something, and I feel like it has helped us build that ‘Sunnyside Pride,’” she said.

She said this year, students are being reminded of where they stand in building their legacy at Sunnyside High School.

“We are beyond what people think we settle for. Like being labeled as ‘southside kids,’ it doesn’t matter where you come from. This school year has taught us we are more than exceptional,” she said.

Teacher Zelika Araiza agreed and said she’s also seen a huge difference in student performance.

“This year they’re more awake, they’re more willing to participate, they’re motivated to learn. They just want to be here,” said Araiza.

She said before, students didn’t know how to be students because they lacked social interaction.

“We see that a lot more, they’re interacting with each other, they’re interacting with the teacher, and that makes it more meaningful for their learning,” she said.

Araiza remembers the pandemic being the most difficult time in her 18 years of teaching.

“This month is the best month I’ve had in the last couple of years,” she said.

This year she’s seen an improvement in mental health in herself and her students, and she’s trying to stay on top of that with mental health checks.

“On a daily basis, just checking, ‘How is everyone doing?’ ‘How do you feel today?’ ‘How focused are you going to be today in class?’ Or even them telling me at the end of the period. ‘Did you change how you felt from the beginning to the end of the period?’"

She said just doing those checks has made a big difference.

Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.