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Normally I have a final paper that my students are required to write — what I call a Rabbit Hole where they pick a topic from lectures, ask a question, research, and write about it. Because things have been a little different with this distance-learning environment, I haven’t been able to really get into some of the final research techniques as I want to, so I have required something else this year: a Quarantine Journal.

For this assignment, they had to write everyday we were out of school for the entire quarantine, however long that happened to be. It happened to be over two months, and some of these kids really did a good job. They were supposed to write about their experiences and thoughts about everything that is going on. Yes, we got some “This sucks,” “I’m bored,” and “Who cares.” But, we also got some in-depth thoughts and feelings about what it is like to be stuck in quarantine and the introspection that comes with it.

I also happened to learn a few things. Did you know that the number of speeders on highways and freeways increased? Apparently so. I’m guessing less people on the roads means that others feel like speeding up. I also learned that Russia has become a bit of a hot spot. I hadn’t been following international trends much. But, it really is amazing what kids can do when they are faced with new situations. They really are adaptable.

So, that wraps up five years at Bear Lake Middle School, and also my last year at Bear Lake Middle School. Completely unplanned, and with all the stars lining up in just the right order, I have accepted a new job at White Pine STEM Academy in Idaho Falls. I will be able to teach Government, US History, Economics, and Computer Science at a public charter school. It is a really exciting, yet terrifying time to be doing this. Just about everyday I am wondering if I have made the right choice, doubting myself, and fearful about the possibility of failing at a new job.

This really was unplanned and makes me leave so many great things behind that I don’t want to leave behind: City Council (which I will be resigning from at the end of the month), a great computer science program at the Middle School where we have raised almost $40,000 for development of the program, and this column which I started writing my first month here almost five years ago.

I am really going to miss everyone, so is my wife. My son is going to miss his new friends at AJ Winters, and I am going to miss my students. Each and every one of them has impacted me in ways that have helped me grow and be a better teacher and person than I ever thought I could be. Thank you so much Bear Lake for welcoming my family and me into your community. I love you all and am going to miss you all so much! Thank you and goodbye.

Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party, and a member of the Montpelier City Council. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD, the City of Montpelier, or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at chorikami@gmail.com and welcomes all comments and critiques.

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