NATOMAS (CBS13) — As distance learning continues, kids’ creativity and teamwork skills may not be getting as much attention. But the Natomas Unified School District feels extra-curricular activities may be just as important as hitting the books.

These days, not a soul can be found on campus at Paso Verde Middle School. But nonetheless, their school spirit still exists. It just may look a little different and feel it, too. Even when sometimes students’ spirits are low.

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“Being stuck at home is really hard,” Maddie Shull said.

She’s among those students feeling the distance learning distress.

“There’s that chance that they’re just going to feel left out and alone,” Shull said.

Though it’s these feelings that Natomas Unified hopes to make better.

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“This virus has taken away a lot of what being a kid is,” NUSD Superintendent Chris Evans said. “Math, English, Science, History – all super important. But without the arts or athletics, we’re not giving kids the full education they deserve.”

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The district recently allocated $1-million to adding creativity, collaboration and connection across the board by rolling out virtual extra-curricular activities, like Puma Productions at Paso Verde. It’s a chance for middle-schoolers to come together and make something as a team. Something sixth-grade teacher Kelly Matheson is proud of.

“It’s proven everyone wrong,” Matheson said. “We can see how much connection we can find on a virtual screen just by getting a little bit creative.”

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The importance of creating with his peers isn’t lost on kids like Luke Davis.

“When you’re locked at home, that creativity may fade and you may not be a very creative person in your adult life,” Davis said.

To these kids, something as simple as a school newscast made during some of our toughest times provides positivity.

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At the elementary level, NUSD said schools have been given funds to choose their own extra-curricular activities to implement, like creating gardening or cooking kits to do together virtually. The district said they’ve connected with thousands of students about it so far.