CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Coral Springs middle school student Veronica Pereira hadn’t seen most of her classmates in person since the start of the pandemic.
So she was happy painting messages on a parking lot of Ramblewood Middle School earlier this month with her friends as part of their National Honor Society project.
“It was so fun to get out with all my friends again,” said the 14-year-old.
As the pandemic continues on, Broward County schools are searching for creative ways to safely bring small groups of students together, in-person, to socialize and be kids again.
The lockdowns, remote learning, and uncertainly of what’s to come have increased anxiety and depression among teenagers who rely on face-to-face get-togethers and friendships to get through the pressures of school and adolescent life, mental health experts say.
At Ramblewood Middle School, school administrators are turning to occasional service projects to get students to meet up safely.
Close to 20 students, including Pereira, came out to color and design the concrete blocks at the school’s parking lot, said Patricia Wagner, an eighth-grade teacher who is in charge of the school’s Honor Society program.
Using donated paint, the students wore masks and kept their distance as they painted on a Saturday morning while listening to music.
“We wanted to do something that would bring a smile to everyone’s face,” Wagner said.
Pereira painted the quote “Adventure is with us” on the concrete block.
“This means you have to be patient with what you do and how to live your life,” she said.
The group is planning more socially distanced, outdoor activities in the coming months, Wagner said.
Pereira, who is doing virtual learning, said she can’t wait to see her friends again in a normal school setting.
She’s not sure, though, when she’ll feel comfortable returning to face-to-face learning in school.
“I really miss school,” she said.
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