School organizes Quarantine Bucket List Challenge for stuck-at-home students

Teachers from Tonaquint Intermediate School participating in the Bucket List Challenge, St. George, Utah, circa March 2020 | Photo courtesy of Katie Jones, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As a way to offer connection, educators at Tonaquint Intermediate School in St. George launched the Quarantine Bucket List Challenge this past week – a project that creators are hoping will bridge distance during this time of dismissals.

Katie Jones, a literacy specialist and learning coach at Tonaquint, told St. George News that this idea was spurred by the school’s principal and was aimed toward coming up with a broad range of activities that the students could do despite their circumstances, as not all students have the same access to supplies and technology.

They wanted the project to be fun and engage various aspects of social, emotional and physical aspects of being. Out of this collaboration, the Quarantine Bucket List Challenge was born.

The Quarantine Bucket List Challenge is for both students and teachers and is a type of bingo broken up into categories: literacy, health/fitness, relationships, hands-on learning (or STEM), creativity, service and mindfulness, Jones said.

Yet unlike the traditional game of bingo, there is no random drawing in order to mark off the tiles. Students get to choose the activities they want to complete and once they complete them, they can mark off the tile.

A Bucket List Bingo card | Photo courtesy of Tonaquint Intermediate School, St. George News

Each week, students will fill out their bingo card and try to make a bingo. At the end of the week on Friday, they will fill out a completion form and turn it in by 3 p.m. Following this, there will be a drawing. Winners will receive a prize in the mail.

The game, bingo cards and other resources may all be found on the Tonaquint Hawk Life resources website.

The site also offers the students a place to upload videos of them doing the challenge. They also encourage students and teachers to post on social media with the hashtag #tisbucketlistchallenge.

Jones said they are also reaching out to businesses and hope that this could provide mutual benefit for businesses that are also hard-up.

If students positively respond to the bucket list challenge, Jones said they hope to see other schools get involved.

For students at the school, who are aged between 11 and 14 years old, a primary challenge they are facing is maintaining a feeling of connection, Tonaquint Principal Desirae Roden told St. George News.

“Friends mean so much, but they can’t see them or talk to them in person. They can go online … but there’s always that authenticity that I worry about,” she said, “and being able to know what people mean because they’re interpreting online language, especially if it’s just through text.”

Without social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, much communication can be misinterpreted, she added. And finding understanding in themselves and one another is vital for the youth.

Teachers from Tonaquint Intermediate School participating in the Bucket List Challenge, St. George, Utah, circa March 2020 | Photo courtesy of Katie Jones, St. George News

“They are going through so much as teens and tweens at this time,” she said. “They’re trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world.”

Roden said she encourages parents to take the time to sit down and talk with their children about the fears they’re facing with the current situation.

“It’s hard for them to really understand the vastness of what’s going on in our world,” she said, “so they hear things – they hear things on the news – and I worry some families don’t have the time to sit down together and talk about how that’s going to impact them as a family.”

“Because it’s scary,” she said. “I know even with my own children, I’m trying to help them understand on their level what this really means. Because they hear different things if we’ve got the news on or we’re just talking as husband and wife.”

Without the physical check-in school afforded before the dismissal, it’s difficult to gauge how students are doing and to make sure they have someone to turn to, she said.

“We can’t see the kids. We can’t ask them. We can’t watch their body language. And those things are so important for us to clue into really what their needs are sometimes,” she said. “We’ve tried to make sure that our students have access to our school counselors as much as possible.”

Tonaquint Intermediate School on an undisclosed date in St. George, Utah. | Photo courtesy Tonaquint Intermediate School, St. George News

Though they have been sending out that information, they are also aware that not all students have access to the internet.

Speaking directly to the students, Roden said they need to know they are missed and to make sure to take care of one another.

“They need to reach out and find out how people are doing. And if they find out that there’s someone that’s not doing so well to let the school counselors know or let their parents know, so that these kids and families can find the help they need.”

One of the things Roden said this experience has illuminated is the value of seeing the students in the hallway and in the classrooms and also a deeper awareness of the students’ needs.

“We’re all more connected than we realize. We don’t always understand that until there’s a crisis that comes into play,” she said. “I would hope that as we move forward, past this particular global crisis, that we continue to find ways to help each other.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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