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South Valley Journal

South Hills students create "Quarantine Guide" website with crafts, videos, challenges

Jun 08, 2020 11:15AM ● By Jet Burnham

Olivia Talley submits a picture of her playdough sculpture for the daily challenge honoring COVID-19 relief workers. (Photo courtesy Olivia Talley)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

The Guide to Quarantine Website at shmsguidetoquarantine.com provides uplifting content, creative crafts, engaging challenges and instructive videos.

The website was created by students at South Hills Middle School as an assignment for their leadership skills class.

“We wanted to make a place that everyone could come to and feel like they were part of something, so they weren't so bored and lonely during everything that's going on,” said ninth grader Madison Dowd.

Madison especially likes the Happy Spot section, a resource of positive quotes, TED Talks, yoga videos, uplifting songs and apps/websites for those looking for a positive boost.

“I feel like it's so easy to feel alone and sad with everything that's going on and so easy to focus on negative things,” Madison said. “So, I really liked that we have a place to highlight good stuff that is still going on and a place that we can find things that are still happy.”

The website provides activity and crafting ideas for kids of all ages to do individually, with friends or with their families. There is even a section for parents with homeschooling tips and resources.

Daily Challenges offer an opportunity to win prizes for those who submit pictures of their completed challenges. Recent challenges have ranged from pet fashion shows, sock puppet plays and scavenger hunts to playdough creations and Lego builds.

The website is the community outreach project for the student leadership class, which normally hosts a spring community carnival. 

“Even though we were excited to work on the carnival, it was fun to do something that nobody else has done yet,” said Sterling Lund.

The 17 students in the class divided into multiple committees, taking responsibility for developing and maintaining the various areas of site content.

“It's just taken a lot of teamwork and a lot of communication to get it up and going,” said ninth grader Chelsah Thomas. “There's so many different little details that you wouldn't even think of initially.” 

Students are learning as they go about web design, advertising and problem-solving, which has required a lot of trial and error.

“I'm just letting them do their thing,” said leadership teacher Luke Talley. “If they fail to do something, I let them fall flat with that. Then we talk about why it didn't work.”

He tells his students, “Just because you have a good idea doesn't mean it's going to happen; it takes work, it takes commitment.”

By tracking the website’s analytics, he can show students the correlation between the amount of effort they put into the website and the number of site visitors.

“I think it's been good for them to see that and that their hard work is paying off,” Talley said. “I've just been really impressed with these kids. They're working hard, and it's really their baby. They've done some good things with it.”

Talley said the focus on serving their community members with the website has helped his students through the isolation of the past few months.

“One of the best ways to feel less isolated is to do things for other people,” Talley said.

Madison said it has been a good experience to be part of the unique project.

“The biggest thing I've learned is how little things can make such a big impact on people,” she said. “Initially, it started as a class project, but seeing so many people being willing to do something and to be involved has been a really cool experience.”

Many of the students plan to continue to update the website throughout the summer.


“We just wanted to give a place for people to lift their spirits and get rid of their boredom and connect them with other people,” said Chelsah.