4 episodes

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.

Odessa The New York Times

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 342 Ratings

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.

    Part 1: The School Year Begins

    Part 1: The School Year Begins

    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.

    • 38 min
    Part 2: Friday Night Lights

    Part 2: Friday Night Lights

    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.

    • 43 min
    Part 3: The Band Bus Quarantine

    Part 3: The Band Bus Quarantine

    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.

    • 36 min
    Part 4: Wellness Check

    Part 4: Wellness Check

    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.

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
342 Ratings

342 Ratings

Mike from NOVA ,

Watching a Disaster Unfold

MINOR SPOILER ALERT: This series is really good, but it’s also really hard to listen to. Even though we are not out of the pandemic, you know how this part ends. But listening to the different groups start with hope and confidence, doing their best managing conflicting concerns, and then hear as it slowly falls apart is depressing. My daughter was a high school senior at the same time, and this series put me back in a place I didn’t want to be. Minor Spoiler: this is just a slice of time story; there’s no summary of how everyone managed. The end was just, “ It could have been worse.”

Reviewer_2012-1 ,

Odessa PERMIAN

See above
Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School,
Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School
Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

Odessa PERIMAN was the High School portrayed on the series Friday Night Lights. Not Odessa High School

HNingS ,

Looking forward to seeing Season 2

It is back to school season again, and new virus appears. Want to know what is happening before school reopen and what teacher, students and parents expect now.

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