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Valley Parents: Welcome to the activities during COVID-19 edition

Valley Parents Editor
Published: 2/12/2021 10:56:45 AM
Modified: 2/12/2021 10:56:43 AM

Kids need creative outlets. Whether that be through theater, music, art, volunteer work or sports, students typically need interests outside the classroom for a full K-12 experience (or that was my experience more than a decade ago at any rate).

But a lot of those activities require close contact between students, which has posed quite the challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the last school year, many programs were cut short. At the beginning of this year, schools and nonprofit organizations had largely figured out ways to provide extracurricular activities while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. In this edition of Valley Parents, we chose to focus on those efforts.

Valley Parents correspondent Isaac Lorton reached out to Upper Valley schools and organizations to see what programs they offer. Here was one common theme that emerged: All stressed the importance of how keeping up activities in some fashion has been important in providing a sense of normalcy during an incredibly trying time period.

Students involved in high school drama programs — such as Hanover High’s Footlighters and Mascoma High’s Mascoma Players — are learning video skills to film their productions, because performing on their stages to a large audience can’t be done during a pandemic.

“It’s really enjoyable for kids because it is a break in what has been really chaotic,” Amy Morse, director of music at Mascoma Valley Regional High School, told Lorton. (Page 9)

That extends to music lessons, including those that are taking place virtually through the Upper Valley Music Center where Sonia Oren’s two children take Suzuki violin classes over Zoom. The Orens have even found a silver lining: Family members from afar were able to tune in to 8-year-old Caleb’s concert.

“Though lessons and concerts are now virtual, they’ve been able to continue to learn and participate in many of their ‘normal’ music activities,” Oren told Lorton. (Page 11)

Instead of meeting in-person with cooking club instructor Lisa Floyd, students discuss and critique recipes they’ve made online. Students prepare meals for their families instead of each other. It’s also given them more of a chance to experiment.

“It’s definitely different than being in the kitchen all together — and I’m looking forward to that again — but they’re growing in terms of skill in the things that they’ve been wanting to make, and the complexity,” Floyd told Lorton. (Page 15)

Art organizations such as AVA Gallery and Art Center and ArtisTree Community Art Center have held a mix of online and in-person classes for the community to meeting a rising need in the desire to be creative during the pandemic. (Page 13)

This edition is also, in a sense, a dedication to all those who have created — and continue to create — opportunities for our community’s children during such a challenging time. In addition to taking care of kids’ physical health during the pandemic, it’s important to pay attention to their emotional health as well. The programs, and their popularity, explored here exemplify that.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at

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