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As part of the “Student Reflections: Looking Back on School during COVID” series, students in each community were given disposable cameras to document their own experiences. They photographed their friends, classrooms, changing mask mandates, recess, after school activities and senior prom. 

On what it was like for her students to take pictures for the project, Nevada Union High teacher Keri Kemble shared: “This was their first exposure to professional journalism and I think it opens their eyes as to how journalism works not only on our campus… We’re always learning about the best way to tell a story and thinking about how best can you tell the stories visually.”

The photographs offer a look back at the school year through the eyes of the students themselves. 

Nevada City

A COVID-19 self-test.
Ms. Kemble’s online multimedia class. Photo by Austin Metzger 
Robert Stevens is learning coding language for his senior school project. Photo by Aiden Steinbach
Marcel Armstrong stands outside on the school campus. Photo by Kyle Waddle
Kaylea McGilvary by E-Wing tables on campus.  Photo by Bella Hescock
Four dance students stand in front of the dance building. Photo by Isabella Wyles
Kalia West works on fabric roses for her Senior Ball dress. Photo by Dakota Mayfield
Senior artist Isabel Harrison. “My art improved over quarantine because of the amount of free time I had. I was able to work on projects not only for my art class but also for myself, making me improve much faster than before. I also learned with extended time to myself I learned a lot about my love for art and how long I would actually spend on my artwork, which was longer than I would have expected,” Harrison said. Photo by Haley Johnston
The senior ball at Miners Foundry. Photo by Austin Metzger 
Senior ball cake on a table. Photo by Austin Metzger
From left, students Jacob Dressel, Logan Van Den Berg, and Sam Sankey sit at the senior ball at Miners Foundry. Photo by Austin Metzger
Joe Forest at the senior ball at Miners Foundry. Photo by Jacob Dressel

Buttonwillow

Lorena walks home from school. “Yoselyn took this photo when I was walking home after school. She liked playing with the camera all the time and taking photos of me.” Photo by Yoselyn Cuellar
Lorena and Yoselyn sitting at a table while on lunch break at school. “Our friend Nathan shot this photo of us at lunch break when I first got it. We were getting used to using it and just kept shooting photos.” Photo by Nathan Diaz
“Yoselyn and I kept shooting selfies of us together while at break or recess. It was so much fun and we really like playing with the disposable camera,” Lorena said. Photo by Lorena Hernandez
From right to left, Lorena and Yoselyn play tetherball on the black top during lunch break at Buttonwillow Elementary School. Photo by Nathan Diaz
Lorena poses for a photo next to a gate during lunch break at Buttonwillow Elementary School. Photo by Yoselyn Cuellar
“Me and Yoselyn just kept playing around with the camera and taking selfies of ourselves at the break all the time.” Photo by Yoselyn Cuellar
Lorena takes a photo of her friends Nathan Diaz (right) and Yoselyn Cuellar (left) while at lunch break. “We were getting used to playing with the camera so I just kept shooting photos of my friends while at break and recess,” Lorena said.  Photo by Lorena Hernandez
Lorena takes a photo of two classmates who made signs for their friend during the student- against-teachers basketball game on campus at Buttonwillow Elementary School.  Photo by Lorena Hernandez

Lockwood

Students running to their classrooms at San Antonio Elementary School in Lockwood. Photo by Fred Segura
The San Antonio Elementary School student garden. Photo by Irma Segura
Fred Segura drops off other San Antonio Elementary School students after school. Photo by Paloma Segura.
Paloma Segura riding the school bus after school. Photo by Irma Segura
Irma Segura wears a bright pink dress as she sits down next to another student at San Antonio Elementary School. Photo by Paloma Segura
Students on the playground at San Antonio Elementary School. Photo by Fred Segura
A pink “Do not disturb” sign placed outside of a classroom during San Antonio Elementary School’s testing week.
Students at San Antonio Elementary School playing on the basketball courts. Photos by Fred Segura
Students playing on the playground at San Antonio Elementary School. Photo by Irma Segura
​​Irma and Almarissa Segura inside their home in Soledad. Photo by Paloma Segura
A double exposure of kids and swings on the playground at San Antonio Elementary School. Photo by Irma Segura

Student Reflections: Looking Back on School during COVID was reported and written by photojournalists Larry Valenzuela, Salgu Wissmath and David Rodriguez for CatchLight & CalMatters.  

For the record: A quote in this post was corrected to reflect that Nevada Union High teacher Keri Kemble referred to the students’ first experience with professional, not scholastic, journalism.

This project was produced by CalMatters & CatchLight as part of the CatchLight Local CA Visual Desk. Contributors include Joe Hong, Miguel Gutierrez Jr., Martin do Nascimento, Mabel Jimenez and Jenny Jacklin-Stratton. The San Antonio Elementary School project was produced through additional collaboration with the Salinas Californian.

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Jenny Jacklin-Stratton

Jenny Jacklin-Stratton is the director of Catchlight Local and is a multimedia journalist, artist, educator and community media organizer.