North Notes
Spokane-North Rotary Club Bulletin
April 11, 2022
            April 18: Rotary lunch, Noon at the Bark.  Topic: Melissa Pettey, Lumen School.
Happy Buck$:
            Steve Perry was happy for a good time in volunteering at schools in California and for a safe trip home.
            Ron Noble was happy to have five of his 14 grandchildren home for school spring break.
            Melinda Keberle, despite canceling a major league planned baseball trip when she feared the baseball stoppage would continue, said she had a good time with her son playing at a beach instead.
            Dave Hayward added $5 when, after two years of Covid cancellations, he finally got to hear a “fabulous” music performance with Glen Miller Big Band music.
            Information for the club’s Saling Scholarship has been distributed to counselors at five high schools.  Melinda Keberle said counselors at Rogers and North Central have already sent out materials. The club will fund one or two $1,500 scholarships.
Another Covid casualty: school mental health
             Adding to the long, sad list of Covid-19 pandemic challenges is the mental health of school populations at every stage.
            Sharing the challenges and grief at the club’s April 11 meeting was Kathleen Smith, mental health therapist supervisor for School District 81.
            “Covid has been a trying time.  It has impacted all of us,” Smith said.
            “Kids have been in isolated so long that many have lacked structure and routines,” she said.  She added that when classes were using Zoom, a number of students “often were in their pj’s.”
            “There has been a lack of socialization and many low-income families don’t have the means to do things,” Smith said.  “There has been a toll even on healthy kids.”
            She said “some 5 or 6 year-olds act like 3 or 4-year-olds and some older students act like they are in 5th or 6th year grades.”
            Smith said there has been “really poor attendance,” with 40 percent of students absent at one school.
            She hopes the “avoiding and withdrawing is getting better now.  People have been perking up a little.”
            Melinda Keberle, a club member and elementary principal, said “a lot of kids were at home alone and they shouldn’t have been leaving there.”
            Right on topic, a front-page story in the April 12 Spokesman-Review headlined: ‘Teens’ Mental Health Takes Big Hit.”
            But school officials have said the challenges are not limited to students.  Reports say many school staffs have been leaving, from bus drivers and janitors to administrators and school superintendents.
            Club member Sandy Fink, who volunteers at Holmes Elementary School, said “there are a lot of new staff members” at the school.
            Smith, who works with 50 District 81 therapists, said Covid feeds “on our own depression, because we can’t control it.  But I do think it is getting better now.”
            Club member Michelle Fossum asked: “What could we do?”
            Smith suggests using lots of “random acts of kindness.”
            She said “a nice note, a thank you, a slice of pizza or a piece of candy” are among helpful items.
            She added “holiday-based things like a tree of sharing” might help, “but little things around the year is important.”
            Smith said dealing with Covid has been a long challenge and getting back to normal performance will also take a long time.
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink