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Odessa – The New York Times

Odessa – The New York Times
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Odessa – The New York Times

Odessa – The New York Instances

Odessa is a four-part audio documentary sequence about one West Texas highschool reopening in the course of the pandemic — and the academics, college students and nurses affected within the course of.

For the previous six months, The New York Instances has documented college students’ return to class at Odessa Excessive College from afar via Google hangouts, audio diaries, telephone calls and FaceTime excursions. And because the nation continues to debate how greatest to reopen faculties, Odessa is the story of what occurred in a faculty district that was amongst people who went first.

Welcome to Odessa, Texas, house to one of the crucial productive oil fields on the planet. It’s a boom-or-bust city, and, proper now, the city is just simply starting to get better from a bust.

A sequence of bankruptcies within the oil business and low gasoline costs have left the neighborhood, and its college students, struggling. With restricted sources, officers in Odessa’s faculty district have fought to maintain deprived college students from falling additional behind. However when Covid-19 shuttered faculty doorways within the spring, these vulnerabilities have been laid naked.

In Half 1, we introduce you to a trainer struggling to offer instruction each in particular person and on-line, a superintendent attempting to maintain the district secure and a scholar attempting to complete her senior yr on her telephone — whereas concurrently working.

“The issue with working your first job throughout class time is that it’s exhausting to hearken to your econ class whereas attempting to recollect how one can make a Mango Magic.”

Joanna is attempting to complete her ultimate yr of highschool from house — and whereas working at her part-time job. However she nonetheless has one bodily connection to high school: the marching band. “Band was the primary place I felt welcomed,” she mentioned. “I truly had associates in band. My first boyfriend was in band. My first heartbreak was in band. So it taught me loads, not nearly music, nearly life.”

“It’s nearly like beginning throughout. I’ve been instructing for 14 years, and it’s all prefer it’s my first yr, my first day instructing,” Ms. Fuentes mentioned. “I’m actually scared, nervous, overwhelmed. I don’t know what to anticipate.”

In a struggling faculty district, assembly college students’ wants is difficult sufficient. However now, Ms. Fuentes is wrestling with how one can assist her college students each in particular person and just about — and to maintain them from falling additional behind within the midst of a pandemic.

“You need us to be up and interesting to the face-to-face children?” Ms. Fuentes mentioned. “I get it. However most of us don’t know what that appears like. Practice us. We’ve gotten digital coaching on how to try this just about, and we all know how to try this head to head. However how the hell do you mix it?”

“I need them to learn to work exhausting and proceed striving, pushing themselves in order that they might have a greater life than what possibly they’ve now.”

A decade and a half in the past, the present “Friday Night time Lights” put Odessa, Texas, on the map. Soccer is massive on the town, however at Odessa Highschool, the award-winning marching band is a supply of satisfaction. Mr. Olague, an assistant director of the band, has tried to maintain his college students drumming via the pandemic.

“Something that we might do to positively preserve our children engaged within the studying course of, we’re going to do.”

When Gov. Greg Abbott launched a mandate that Texas’ faculties would provide in-person education 5 days per week, Dr. Muri had little alternative however to open his faculties’ doorways. Now he’s confronted with the problem of not solely conserving his college students secure and making certain that they graduate — however attempting to assist them thrive.


Odessa was produced by Annie Brown, Sindhu Gnanasambandan and Soraya Shockley; with assist from Mitch Borden and Diana Nguyen; edited by Liz O. Baylen and Lisa Tobin; engineered by Chris Wooden; authentic compositions by Dan Powell and Marion Lozano; and fact-checking by Ben Phelan. Particular due to Larissa Anderson, Clifford J. Levy, Dana Goldstein, Kate Taylor, Clifford Krauss, Apoorva Mandavilli, Ken Belson, Lauren Jackson and Laura Kim.

Particular due to the employees and college students of the Ector County Unbiased College District.

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