Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School opened the new school year today, Aug. 13, with distance learning, bringing teachers and students together in virtual classrooms.
Although Immaculate Heart launched online classes, administrators spent time during the summer developing a class schedule that accommodates instructional options depending on the easing of public health orders. The school implemented distance learning last school year and is continuing it this year.
“Our hope is to transition to a hybrid mix of online and face-to-face instruction for students when possible,” Immaculate Heart High School Principal Naemah Morris said. “Ultimately, our goal is to welcome all students back to campus classes when it is safe to do so.”
When both the high school and middle school switched to distance learning in March in response to COVID-19, teachers met the challenge by creating virtual classrooms almost overnight.
“The fact that our teachers and students already utilize technology in their classes made our switch to distance learning a smooth one,” Morris said.
Immaculate Heart Middle School Principal Gina Finer also said faculty members were instrumental in creating a successful new learning experience for students last spring. “Everyone stepped up to the plate with ideas and suggestions,” Finer said. “Teachers worked tirelessly to provide our girls with the same high-quality education and sense of community that they would have had here on campus. I have no doubt they will continue to rise to the challenge this fall.”
Over the summer, many Immaculate Heart teachers attended professional development workshops to explore technology tools to enhance their online classes via Google Meet. The tools and other instructional tips were shared among Immaculate Heart’s faculty during staff meetings earlier this week.
The campus has not been entirely devoid of students in recent days. New middle schooler students picked up school-issued iPads, books, supplies and giveaway bags with an Immaculate Heart T-shirt and a Panda bear stuffed animal in honor of the school mascot. The students also attended a virtual iPad boot camp.
Similarly, incoming high freshmen recently received their laptops as part of Immaculate Heart’s 1:1 technology program. As the students arrived on campus in small groups, Associated Student Body officers and other student leaders held welcome signs and handed out care packages that featured a Panda T-shirt in green –the freshman class color.
All new students recently attended virtual orientation programs to prepare them for online classes. During last week’s middle school orientation, teachers joined student leaders to welcome 67 students to the sixth grade, along with six new seventh graders and two new eighth graders.
This week’s high school orientation celebrated the arrival of 135 freshman students in the class of 2024, along with five transfer students including two sophomores, two juniors and one senior. In small groups, students participated in virtual sessions covering distance learning procedures, student services, the freshman year experience and a virtual campus tour with student leaders.
For the start of the first day of classes, high school students came together as a single school community for a virtual honor code assembly. Welcoming them were Morris and ASB president Cleo Riley, a senior who also led students in a discussion about the value of academic integrity. Afterward, students met in virtual groups to learn about the school’s honor code and to officially add their names affirming the code of conduct.
Immaculate Heart is located at 5515 Franklin Ave. For information, visit immaculateheart.org.
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