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Okotoks students learning again

Teachers look at innovative ways to educate suddenly at-home students
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Foothills Composite High School teacher Ben Stevens gives the thumb’s up sign as he prepares to teach students who are being taught at home due to social distancing to stave off the COVID-19 virus. (Photo submitted)

Foothills Composite High School is totally on-line with teaching its students while maintaining the all-important social distancing rules.

The high school, along with the other schools in the division, had its first day of school on Monday since education facilities were shut down to students due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16.

However, the students weren’t in their classrooms they were at home.

“It went really well – we had a couple of crimps here and there with trying to get all of our families connected,” said Foothills Composite principal Vince Hunter said.

“We were able to identify who was kind of still missing and put out phone calls and connected with them.

“The overall feedback was great – a real positive message from the families… A real positive energy.”

About half of the staff are working at the Comp, the others at home.

Students are learning from home using the internet or in some cases correspondences with packages which were sent home.

Grade 12 student Caitlyn Winter admitted on Sunday she was chomping  at the bit to get back to school.

“I am glad that there is still school going,” Winter said.

“We had already missed a week of school and that puts us behind. I would rather have it in our class but events happen but that‘s okay.”

She is taking English, Spanish and Sports Medicine.

“For English I believe I have a chat with my teacher, Mr. Campos, and I believe we will be talking about our book, (A Streetcar Named Desire),” Winter said. “We will be live chatting with our class.”

Campos has experience in online teaching through the school’s HUB program.

Unlike Blanche Dubois, students at the Comp won’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

The staff is there to help them.

Most importantly, counselling remains for students.

“That was our number-one priority,” Hunter said. “Last week we phoned with every family that had already worked with our guidance or school counsellors. We let them know how they can still access and use us. It’s all available.

“Families are going through a lot, losing jobs, not able to see loved ones, there’s so much going on. All of our experts are
available.”

It has also had teachers thinking outside of the box – even those who could easily make a box.

Carpentry teacher Cyril Reschny spent the weekend at the Comp making a video showing proper sawing techniques.

In Drama, instructor Jessica Kelly has tracked some acting professionals who are getting involved. The students record their performances, which are assessed by the professionals.

“It may not be as hands on as it was, but we want to help the kids make the connection with their teachers again,” Hunter said. “We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, getting able to reconnect has been healthy for us too.”

Hunter said the school is working on a plan to have a graduation ceremony, possibly in the fall.

Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools started up school on March 24. Details will be in the next edition of the Western Wheel.

 

Follow our COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.

 




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Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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