We Asked The Third Graders Of Room 132 To Reflect On The ‘Year Like No Other.’ Here’s What They Said

This is a continuing series on one of the first classrooms to go back to…

This is a continuing series on one of the first classrooms to go back to in-person learning – Renea Sutton’s Level 3 classroom, Room 132, at Josephine Hodgkins Leadership Academy in Westminster Public Schools.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


The doors of Room 132 at Josephine Hodgkins Leadership Academy closed at the end of the school day on Tuesday — the final official day of school for these third graders — in arguably the most challenging school year in decades.

But teacher Renea Sutton opened the doors of her Room 132 the very next day to start 12 more additional days of learning that the Westminster Public Schools district has offered to children and their families who want to recover any lost learning during the COVID pandemic — and for educators who want to do it. All but one of her 15 students is attending the additional learning.

“The way I told this to the kids is we have two more days and then we have 12 more days we get to do,” Sutton laughed.

Throughout the year, Sutton guided, coached, coaxed, and educated 15 “level three” — that is, third grade — students at the Josephine Hodgkins Leadership Academy in Westminster Public Schools.

CPR News chronicled some of Sutton’s time in the classroom as she faced the daunting task of getting students caught up academically after five months out of school — and meeting her students’ emotional needs in an uncertain environment. She kept expectations high, but also infused a sense of fun and laughter in Room 132.

Some students had family members get COVID (“I had to hold my tears in,” said one boy), they struggled through remote learning (“It was very annoying”), and they missed their friends terribly. The kids said when they returned to school, they became close like family (“Like friendly, rough.”)

They’re nervous about which class they’ll get in next year and seem a little apprehensive about their ability to make new friends next year. But they all said they’ll miss Mrs. Sutton.

On one of the final days in the official school year, Sutton, outfitted in a Disney Moana face mask, wasn’t letting up one bit. The kids were busy creating their own board games, incorporating many of the skills they’ve learned over this year. Sutton circulated, answering and asking questions, prompting the students to try and figure out things for themselves.

“I’m proud of the kids. Like I told them, ‘It’s a year like no other.’ To have gone through it, they should be proud. It was a challenging year for sure.”

Students in Room 132 answered some questions about the year, the pandemic and what they’ll do this summer.


Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Monsi (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Monsi

Monsi’s favorite animal is a horse, her favorite food is pizza, and her favorite thing about school is being with her friends.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

I was not able to learn and be with my friends. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I can do anything tough if I just believe in myself. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

All the memories I had with my friends. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I am because I am worried I won’t have good grades. 

What are your plans for the summer?

I will go to Disney World in July with my family. 


Leo (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Leo (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Leo

Leo’s favorite animal is a dog, his favorite food is chicken nuggets and his favorite thing about school is homework.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part of the pandemic is wearing a mask because it is hard to breathe. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that I have to read much faster. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss my friends and my teacher. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I’m nervous for fourth grade because I am scared of making new friends. 

What are your plans for the summer?

My plan for summer is that I’m going to Mexico to see my grandma. 


Justin (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Justin (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Justin 

Justin’s favorite animal is a wolf because it reminds him of a dog, his favorite food is a corn dog because it tastes like a hot dog, and his favorite thing about school is that it has equipment so he and his classmates can play soccer, basketball and football. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

I had to quarantine because I got COVID tested and missed a lot of school. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that I am very social because when we were in remote I had a hard time. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss how we are doing game boards. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I am not nervous because I’ve been in this school for four years. 

What are your plans for the summer?

I think me and my Dad are going to the aquarium. 


Sebastian (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Sebastian (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Sebastian 

Sebastian’s favorite animal is a cheetah because it’s fast like lightning, like him (“I’m fast, so it’s like me.”) His favorite food is a type of soup that his mom makes (“It’s so good it makes me get up and run around.”) 

What is your favorite thing about school?

My favorite thing about school is the crafts and projects we do, like the board game. We are making our own board game. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part is when my nephew caught COVID. His COVID test was positive. It made me real sad and nervous. I didn’t want him to die. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that masks at first looked easy but when school started a few days later I was exhausted. It was terrible. I could barely breathe. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss Mrs. Sutton. She was the best teacher I had. She did surprises and crafts we could do. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes, because I’m nervous no one will like me. I have to work harder. I’m worried I will not get my stuff done. 

What are your plans for the summer?

My plan is to hang out with my family like going to the mountains, the movies and more.


Amya (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Amya (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Amya

Amaya’s favorite animals are pandas, bear cubs, cheetah cubs, and pugs, her favorite food is macaroni and cheese (she also loves egg rolls), and her favorite thing about school is the learning and friends. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part of the pandemic was learning from home. It was hard because Ms. Sutton couldn’t help us as much. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned I’m in between social and being nonsocial. I liked being around people, but at the same time I didn’t, it was so-so.

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I’ll miss how fun she made learning, and my friends. They’re like family to me. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I’m nervous because I won’t have Ms. Sutton to help me. 

What are your plans for the summer?

I’m going to Baltimore, Maryland, and San Francisco to go to Alcatraz.


Nathan (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Nathan (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Nathan 

Nathan’s favorite animal is a puppy, his favorite food is pizza, and his favorite thing about school is science. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

To wear so many masks around the world. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

That I could work by myself and sometimes I need help on my work. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

Mrs. Sutton and seeing my friends. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes, because I won’t know anyone. 

What are your plans for the summer?

I think to go to Urban Air and go swimming and maybe go to a place where you have a rope and you put on a suit and people push you down and land in foam blocks and those are my plans.


Jordynn (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Jordynn (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Jordynn

Jordynn’s favorite animal is a dog because she owns a dog, her favorite food is pizza, and her favorite thing about school is math. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part about the pandemic is that I have to wear a face mask and it is hard because I can’t breathe and I can’t hear others when they read (out loud). 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that I can do anything if I set a goal to reach and keep setting goals and try new things and not give up.

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I’ll miss all of the fun times we had and all of the good friendships. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

A little because I’m worried that the work will be hard. 

What are your plans for the summer?

One plan for the summer is going to meet my aunt.


Kimberly (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Kimberly (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Kimberly 

Kimberly’s favorite animal is a dog, her favorite food is pizza and candy that has chocolate, and her favorite thing about school is that you can learn new stuff. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part of the pandemic is that we have to wear masks and when you breathe it goes up into your eyes. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

Something that I learned about myself is that I can interact with people quickly. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

One thing that I will miss is that I will have another teacher and Mrs. Sutton’s is really fun. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes, because I will have to be with another teacher and new kids. 

What are your plans for the summer?

My plan for the summer is to get another pet.


Zeke (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Zeke (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Zeke

Zeke’s favorite animal is a swan because they are beautiful, his favorite food is steak, and his favorite thing about school is he gets to learn different stuff. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hardest part of the pandemic is the mask because we cannot breathe. And social distance because we cannot have four people at a table. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that we have to wear masks for seven hours and we have to social distance and no high fives. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss my teacher because sometimes we do fun things. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I’m pretty nervous because I don’t know if people would laugh at me. 

What are your plans for the summer?

My plans are that we may be going to move houses.


Owen (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Owen (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Owen 

What is your favorite animal?

Owen’s favorite animal is a lobster (it looks like lightning), his favorite food is spring rolls from Panda Express, and his favorite thing about school is that he can learn.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The hard part was when we went remote.

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I learned that I don’t need stress over stuff. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss the fun we had. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

I am because I don’t feel like I can do it. 

What are your plans for the summer?

I don’t know if we are doing anything.


Jack (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Jack (8). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Jack 

Jack’s favorite animal is a monkey, his favorite food is hamburgers, and his favorite thing about school is seeing his friends.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

The masks. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

Asking questions helps me. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

Doing the fun activities. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes, because I don’t want a strict teacher. I’m not really good with strict people.

What are your plans for the summer?

Seeing my cousins at Lake Powell and going on sunset rides on our boat, going swimming, jumping off of our boat in the water.


Rowan (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Rowan (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Rowan 

Rowan’s favorite animal is a dog, his favorite food is pizza, and his favorite thing about school is that he can meet his friends in real life, not just online. 

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

Wearing the masks and the 6-foot thing. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I like being together with my friends. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

Doing the book charms for the book reports.

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes and no because I will be shy but some of my friends will be in the same class as me!

What are your plans for the summer?

I will be going to Alaska and I will be moving houses and getting a new car.


Alejandro (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Alejandro (9). Hodgkins Leadership Academy. May 21, 2021.

Alejandro

Alejandro’s favorite animal is a lion (This furious animal is wise and dangerous”), his favorite food is pizza because of the flavor and his favorite thing about school is he gets to meet new people.

What was the hardest part of the pandemic?

I once wanted to go to Urban Air for my birthday. It was my birthday but it was closed because of the pandemic. 

What is something you learned about yourself this year?

I really haven’t figured out anything yet. 

What will you miss about Mrs. Sutton’s class?

I will miss Mrs. Sutton because Mrs. Sutton is the best teacher. 

Are you nervous about going to fourth grade? Explain.

Yes, because I am not smart.

(Mrs. Sutton spoke to Alejandro afterward and told him he is very smart, he just learns in a different way.)

What are your plans for the summer?

To go camping and have fun.