Madison Hanninen estimated that she spent about half of her time at Proctor High School learning outside.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that entire swaths of her second and early years were spent homeschooling while her mother, an essential worker at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, was at work. This has prompted Hanninen to embark on her final year at Proctor, which is set to end Sunday when she and about 125 of her classmates graduate from the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
“I really got my foot in the door,” she told the News Tribune.
The 17-year-old has sampled multiple careers — nursing at Lake Superior College, emergency rescue via St. Louis County, auto body work at a local store, and more. – via the “Proctor Pathways” program there and made a point of volunteering at the Boxcar, a thrift store filled with donated clothing and toiletries that Proctor students can pick up for free twice a week or by appointment . Hanninen pushed to add a “hygiene cart” filled with soap, toothpaste, tampons, and more.
She also spent time at the Salvation Army, cleaning and organizing donated clothing.
Inspired by her extended family’s complicated journey through certain areas of the criminal justice and social service systems, Hanninen hopes to become a social worker herself.
Children, she says, need a good support system in similar circumstances.
“They need a good social worker,” Hanninen said. “They need someone who wants the best interest for them.”
She plans to go to Lake Superior College next fall to get an associate’s degree and then to the University of Wisconsin-Higher to get her bachelor’s degree.
Return to class a fight
But there was a downside to returning to school in person for Hanninen and many of his classmates. Going from home Zoom calls and half-attentive classes to a much more regulated, work-like class schedule was shocking, she said, which meant social anxiety as Hanninen and others adapted. to their new routine.
“I suffered for the first few months from having really bad anxiety attacks from being here,” Hanninen said, “and from not being used to being around all these people and loud, unexpected noises from what was going to happen with the day.”
Almost every student and staff at Proctor High School has had a similar experience, according to Sarah Klyve, the school’s student success coordinator and dean of students. She said she helps students with behavioral issues or other “negative outlets” figure out what they want to do after high school and, hopefully, feel more comfortable there. school and find a way that applies to them.
Back in a regular classroom, Klyve said, students were more prone to outbursts and illness, which she attributed to anxiety manifesting in things like stomach aches.
Most students haven’t been particularly successful academically learning online, Klyve said. Many skirted a topic while teaching remotely and weren’t ready for the rigor expected of them in in-person classes.
“It’s been really, really tough,” Klyve said. “We saw a delay of at least a year in most students.”
District leaders are hoping to make up for some of that lost time by offering “extended” school days for students who have struggled to transition into the classroom. This means a place to stay after school and work with a teacher for homework help and other forms of assistance.
And the Pathways program, which the district instituted a few years ago, can also help make returning to a physical school easier by providing opportunities to sample careers outside of their normal classrooms — like job shadowing. work and internships.
“It helps students feel more involved in school,” Klyve said, “and see the value in what they do in the classroom.”
1/4: Madison Hanninen, 17, a senior at Proctor High School, smiles between clothes racks inside Proctor High School’s Boxcar Thrift Store on Thursday. Hanninen volunteers at the thrift store and will be graduating on Sunday.
2/4: Proctor High School senior Madison Hanninen, 17, smiles as she stands at the counter inside Proctor High School’s Boxcar Thrift Store on Thursday. Hanninen volunteers with the thrift store. She will graduate on Sunday.
3/4: Proctor High School senior Madison Hanninen, 17, waves with her right hand while describing donated clothing inside Proctor High School’s Boxcar Thrift Store on Thursday. Hanninen volunteers with the thrift store. She will graduate on Sunday.
4/4: Madison Hanninen, 17, a senior at Proctor High School, listens while having a conversation at the counter inside the Boxcar Thrift Store at Proctor High School on Thursday.
You can reach Joe Bowen at 218-720-4172 or