Seniors at Ripon High continued old and new traditions to mark the first day of school despite not actually being on campus.
Instead, they were at home, embarking on another year of distance learning under the orders of the San Joaquin County Office of Education and SJC Public Health Department.
There were a few differences between then — as in last spring — and now.
"Before, we lacked accountability," said instructor Ann Pendleton. "Students now follow a regular schedule where attendance and assignments matter."
She teaches Biology, Anatomy and Journalism, and is in her sixth year at RHS. Altogether, Pendleton has nearly 20 years of experience in education.
This year is different due to the virtual classroom sessions conducted via Zoom.
"It didn't matter if you had 25 or 30 years of (teaching) experience, we were all feeling like new teachers today," said Pendleton, who was able to breathe a sigh of relief after wrapping up Day 1 of the new school year.
Her daughter is part of the RHS Class of 2020.
Many started that first day with the longstanding tradition of Senior Sunrise. But rather than the large group standing atop the Highway 99 pedestrian-only bridge, they opted to do so virtually, using their cellphones to capture the dawn of a new day.
Some seniors continued a year-old tradition of purchasing their own personalized parking space adjacent to the Multi-Using Room. With that, they were able to paint and decorate that space good for the entire school year.
How soon students return to campus is anyone's guess, Pendleton said.
She and Athletic Director Rod Wright also double up as the Ripon High Superfan as seen on YouTube / social media.
"We started doing school events but (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) we expanded our coverage into the community," Pendleton said.
The latest Superfan segment covered the new Red and White scheduling at the school that alternates week to week.
Pendleton didn't mind returning to the classroom to conduct distance learning. This provided her with some separation between home and the work environment.
As for first-day concerns?
"I worried about kids actually showing up (to the classroom) and tech issues," Pendleton said.
Meanwhile, she reported strong first-day Zoom attendance.
"Out of 100 students (in three classes) only one was missing," said Pendleton, who was pleased overall with the online experience.