Last week was an unexpectedly crazy one for me. I toured Eastmont and Wenatchee high schools on Monday and Tuesday after thinking the public hasn’t seen what it’s like since they were opened up to students a month ago.
Tuesday’s tour of Wenatchee High followed the same pattern as my trip to Eastmont High the day before. I met the principal at the front office and asked to see classrooms with students,
a transition time in the hallway between classes,
and if they had them, a lunch break.
Wenatchee Principal Eric Anderson helped me check in through the school’s screening process and we headed to peek in on some classes. We passed by the auditorium and I walked over to an open door to take a look.
Placed around the outside of the seating areas were small, green tents. I knew there could be an interesting photograph there after Anderson told me that the band practices in the enclosures. He found out when their next practice would be and I made a note to return in about an hour.
After getting photographs of a math classroom, the transition in the hallway, and a physical education class, I walked back to the auditorium and found one of the saxophone players using a pole to separate the tents about six feet apart from each other. A Michael Jackson music video was playing on the large screen on the stage.
The band director arrived just before class was to start and encouraged his students to get their instruments ready for practice because an assembly was cutting their time short.
When the kids began playing, I was concentrating on the front of the room because there were multiple layers of the tents in that spot of the auditorium and I knew that it would be good to show as many musicians using them as possible.
I tried various angles and shooting from different rows of chairs then looked around the room again and saw the tuba and sousaphone players near the entrance — the tuba player was already inside and playing but the two sousaphone players were having trouble getting into their tents with their large instruments.
I took various photographs of one person in particular. I liked how his horn was bright while the bell of the other was painted yellow and was harder to see inside the tent.
I took many photographs of him, waiting to see if his head would pop up in view inside the tent. He played for a while before the class ended then I walked up to him and got his name for the caption.
The director told the students to spray the inside of their tents with disinfectant and lay them down on the ground before the school began coming into the auditorium for the assembly.
I knew I had interesting photographs from my two days of touring the local schools that would tell a story of how the districts were attempting to carry on with in-person teaching while still maintaining safety inside their schools.
What I didn’t know is how those images of the band practice would become a larger symbol of how we are living with COVID-19.