Despite the required closing of schools due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, our Diocesan high schools continue to connect with and engage students academically and spiritually. Holy Trinity Diocesan High School and St. John the Baptist Diocesan School have remained sources of support for their students and families.
Maintaining the Continuity of Instruction
Both high schools have developed an academic schedule to allow students to move forward in their coursework. As G-Suite for Education Schools, teachers continue to utilize Google Classroom with students as a learning management tools. Through the use of Zoom, faculty and students are able to connect in real time for classes. Teachers have also created instructional videos for students. Both schools established guidelines for online learning. Administrators and faculty members continue to meet and collaborate via online Zoom and Google Meet. Teachers are finding creative ways to continue their coursework. For example, St. John the Baptist dance students are watching videos to learn about different elements of dance. In order to maintain routine, students are even provided with daily prayers and announcements. Most importantly, students are on track to successfully complete their academic plans for the year, pass all required exams and be prepared for ‘what’s next’ in their academic careers.
Keeping the Social Fabric Intact
High school is a very social time for students, and the schools have endeavored to maintain a dialogue with students and to lift the spirits of the student body. Some of the ways, the Diocesan high schools remain committed to the well-being of their students have included using Guidance counselors and social workers to provided strategies to assist with mental health and to support the transition to learning from home. The schools communicate with school families regularly. The schools have also used their social media channels to remain connected to students, not only to impart news but to share school spirit. Holy Trinity is holding an online school spirit week, sharing inspirational quotes, and honoring and praying alumni who are first responders and medical professionals. Members of the St. John the Baptist community are sharing images of how they are staying strong.
Nourishing Students’ Spirits
Most importantly, the high schools continue to guide students and their families in the Catholic faith. St. John the Baptist streams Mass each weekday evening at 7 PM and at 10 AM on Sundays, except for Tuesdays, when students can participate in Adoration, featuring a speaker and live music, online. Holy Trinity provides a link to streamed Masses from Holy Family Church, their partner parish. Holy Trinity will be launching a video of the Rosary this week. Chaplain Fr. Liam McDonald and Seminarian Chris Heller are working with students to create a video of the Stations of the Cross. Each day, the Holy Trinity Community participates in the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM. St. John the Baptist students are studying online videos from sources such as FORMED, Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. Rob Ketcham, and CFN to further their Lenten studies.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kathleen Walsh, stated, “I am very grateful to the administrators and staff who have truly risen to the occasion and are working tirelessly to provide a meaningful learning experience for all of our students.”
The Initial Reviews Are In
The comments received from parents and students validate Dr. Walsh’s remarks and show what a tight-knit family community and strong foundation can be found at each of our Diocesan high schools. One parent stated, “the support academically and spiritually that my children are receiving is more than we could have hoped for during this unprecedented time. You were right on top of the online learning and the teachers are being supportive and understanding to all that is going on.” A student shared, “I am very grateful for my family and our health during this time. I also have realized how much I took school for granted so I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to HT for the past four years!” Another student said, “I am grateful that I am still able to receive an education from home. I never realized how much I would miss going to school until I am unable to anymore.”