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Alexandria classmates greet new student via video

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Kindergartener Talisa Williams has spent her life watching her older siblings head off to school. So when it was her turn, she couldn’t wait to go and make friends of her own. Online learning with her classmates at Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria just hasn’t been the same. 

“She misses the other students very much, she misses her teachers,” said her father, Mike Williams. “It’s easy to forget just how much it means to have a community, even for kindergartners.”

 

So when Talisa learned a new student was joining her class, she wanted to introduce herself. “She became so excited,” said Mike. “She asked, ‘Is it possible I can say hi to him by video?’ It seemed like a sweet request and with an iPhone it was easy enough to let her speak on camera and then send it around to the class.”

Fellow Blessed Sacrament parent Matt Persiani knew for a long time that he and his family would be moving from Virginia Beach to Northern Virginia, but he didn’t know they’d be doing it in the midst of a global pandemic. His 6-year-old son John Vito joined the kindergarten class at Blessed Sacrament after school already had closed.  But John Vito was able to “meet” his classmates online. After Talisa sent her video, messages from his other classmates began pouring in.

“One day my inbox got flooded with them. I don’t even know how many we got but we watched all of them multiple times,” said Matt. “It was really nice to have everyone welcome him so warmly up here.”

Though he was feeling shy, John Vito sent a video message back. “Hi, my name is John Vito. I can’t wait to meet with all my friends.”

Students and teachers have found all kinds of creative ways to keep in touch and continue learning during this time of social distancing. The choir of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington created a video of them singing “Hope Lingers On” via Zoom. Middle schoolers at St. Joseph School in Herndon held a virtual poetry coffee house. Teachers and faculty at St. Patrick School in Fredericksburg have taken turns reading a “goodnight story” to the school via video. Our Lady of Hope School in Potomac Shores is hosting a family talent shown by livestream.

Gabriel Khater, a third grader at St. Theresa School in Ashburn, jumps rope as part of a physical education assignment. COURTESY

gabriel ash While things may be different, Jon Taylor, a parent at St. Theresa School in Ashburn, believes his sons remain very engaged in the school community.  “We don’t feel shut down at all. Just because we’re not there face-to-face doesn't mean learning isn’t going on,” said Taylor. “My boys wake up, have a little breakfast and go straight to work. I’ve been so impressed by how well the school has adapted to an unprecedented time. They have not missed a beat.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

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