How do teachers feel about students “belonging” at OHS?


Steven Liu

Marie Rubin, English teacher

During the 2021-22 school year a “student health youth survey” was administered to the School, and the results of the question, ”Do you feel like you belong” has left students and teachers at Olympia High School worried, confused, and desiring change.
Teachers instructed students to take this survey in order to see how they were doing mentally and physically over quarantine. The results of the question ”Do you feel like you belong at OHS?” revealed that only 36 percent of students felt like they belonged. Many teachers have varying opinions about what is being done to raise this score, and about what belonging means.

English language development teacher Marie Rubin says she gears her entire curriculum and classroom setting toward giving students a sense of belonging and that students need to “feel like they fit in with the community.” Rubin believes that students should feel connected to their school and that this can be improved by helping them reach their dream jobs through coursework.

Katie Smith, a sophomore at Olympia High School, told the Olympus that she enjoys her time at Olympia High School and finds some of the curriculum interesting as it helps with her future goals. Smith comments that her sense of belonging at OHS doesn’t sprout from her teachers, but from the community around her and the courses she’s taking.“Teachers don’t really affect how I feel at OHS,” Smith.

According to Jacob Gronka, a senior at OHS, the teachers and students at Oly don’t seem to affect how students “belong” at school. The disparagingly low score stems from the courses they’re taking.

“There isn’t a problem with the community or teachers. We just need to improve on our curriculums,” explained Gronka. He believed that there wasn’t an inherent problem in OHS that affects how well a student fits in, but the school could improve how a student feels by creating a wider range of classes. Also, Gronka claims that we could possibly improve our school’s atmosphere by encouraging better etiquette.

Students have noted that as of recently, there’s been a lack of good manners within the school. “Our community could be better if there was a sense of basic human decency and manners,” said Aubry Nielson, a senior at OHS. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Nielson observed a considerable lack of sympathy for other people.

Most interviewed stated that there isn’t an easy way for teachers to help students feel comfortable because a lot of students don’t acknowledge teachers as a part of their circle. “Why would I want to talk to my teacher about life, though? I want to separate that,” Nielsen stated. Therefore, the only things left to help students feel like they belong is community and curriculum.