OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -- This school year is one that many will talk about for years to come. Whether it be the number of adjustments, seniors graduating virtually, or the trials and tribulations that districts around the metro have faced.

On Thursday, KCTV5’s Greg Payne talked to one Kansas schoolteacher who, despite all the negatives he and his students have faced, continues to look at things in a positive light.

Jeff Smikahl, the director of bands at Olathe East High School has nothing but praise for his students this year.

“This group was so great,” he said. “They fit a year’s worth of awesomeness in three-quarters of a school year.”

“For everybody, it’s easy to dwell on the negatives and what could have been,” he said.

The group had a number of senior events and performances cancelled this year, including a national festival in Indianapolis that the percussion group was selected to play in.

“We ended up driving all the way to Indianapolis and then busing back home without even getting to perform, so that was really hard,” he said.

On top of that, he then learned he had coronavirus.

“My symptoms were the worst for about a week and a half,” he said. “After that, it was just like many people have -- the overwhelming fatigue.”

Despite the many obstacles, the group found a way to get closer by constantly connecting through Zoom.

“I even had a student drop me off some cookies when I was in quarantine,” he said. “The kids were supportive. Parents and colleagues.”

He has now completed quarantine and believes this year’s trials and tribulations will go a long way for everybody.

“I know that everybody is going to rally,” he said. “We are going to come out stronger in the long run.”

He said this year’s band had a number of seniors, including some who will be taking their musical talents to the college level.

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