Odessa

By The New York Times

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Category: Documentary

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Description

A failing school system. An oil bust. A marching band determined to keep playing through a pandemic. This is the story of one Texas high school in crisis — and trying to reopen its doors.

Episode Date
Part 4: Wellness Check
00:42:32

This episode contains references to mental health challenges, including eating disorders.

Joanna Lopez, the high school senior we met in our first episode of Odessa, has turned inward: staying in her bedroom, ghosting friends and avoiding band practice. But playing with the marching band at the last football game of her high-school career offers a moment of hope that maybe, one day, things will get better.

In the finale of our four-part series, we listen as the public health crisis becomes a mental health crisis in Odessa.

Apr 30, 2021
Part 3: The Band Bus Quarantine
00:36:22

Last fall, as Odessa High School brought some students back to campus with hybrid instruction, school officials insisted mask wearing, social distancing and campus contact tracing would keep students and faculty safe. And at the beginning of the semester, things seemed to be going OK. But then a spike in coronavirus cases hit town, putting the school’s safety plan to the test. 

In part three of our four-part series, we follow what happened when a student quarantine stretched the school’s nurses to capacity, fractured friendships and forced some marching band members to miss a critical rite of passage: the last football game of their high school career.

Apr 09, 2021
Part 2: Friday Night Lights
00:43:59

In 1988, a high school football team in Odessa, Texas, was so good that it became the inspiration for a book, movie and, eventually, the television series “Friday Night Lights.” And in the decades since, as West Texas has weathered the unsettling undulations of the oil industry, football has remained steady. 

So after the pandemic hit, the town did what it could to make sure the season wasn’t disrupted. And at Odessa High School, where the football team struggles to compete against local rivals, the members of their award winning marching band were relieved they could keep playing. 

In Part 2 of Odessa, we follow what happened when the season opened — and how the school weighed the decision to start against the possible risks to students’ physical and mental health.

Mar 12, 2021
Part 1: The School Year Begins
00:38:26

Odessa is a four-part audio documentary series about one West Texas high school reopening during the pandemic — and the teachers, students and nurses affected in the process.

For the past six months, The New York Times has documented students’ return to class at Odessa High School from afar through Google hangouts, audio diaries, phone calls and FaceTime tours. And as the country continues to debate how best to reopen schools, Odessa is the story of what happened in a school district that was among those that went first.

Feb 26, 2021