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Distance learning and preparing for Holy Week
Rachelle Garbarine

As we wrap up our third week of distance learning, we also start to prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Prayer and charity define our Lenten traditions, which we continue to practice, virtually, amid.  coronavirus concerns and hurdles. This latest story explores those topics and more and includes a special Easter wish.

Graphic of distance learning.

If the past weeks are any indication, distance learning at Cardinal Gibbons is moving forward with engaging academic lessons. At the same time, students and educators are adapting to the “new normal” of online learning and teaching. Their consistent mantra? They miss the interaction in-person classes provide.

Both, however, have discovered inventive ways to navigate, safely and creatively, around that challenge. This week, for instance, science educator Paige Derouin ’09 asked her biology students to research characteristics about an animal of their choice, including how their animals adapt to the environment. After that, they are to create slideshows about their animals and then turn their slideshows into videos. How? By using Screencastify, a simple screen recorder that allows students to record, edit, and share videos.

“Students,” Derouin explained, “will be able to view the video presentations and learn about a wide range of animal species from their classmates!”

Physics educator Angie Melcher has been doing a special weekly “photo” project with all of her physics students. The idea is  “to build a sense of community with lab groups in my classes,” she noted.

The idea is  “to build a sense of community with lab groups in my classes,”
noted  Angie Melcher.

Essentially, the project, adapted from a national photo contest that was canceled due to the pandemic, requires that each lab group submit a photo related to physics and an essay explaining the physics behind the photo. Melcher said she asks the students to come up with ideas for the photos based on their group’s work in class during the year and to be creative.

Student made origami peacock.

Technical theater educator Karestin Harrison also is challenging her students weekly “to problem solve situations using household items,” she explained. The challenges include making paint, fake blood, origami, salt dough designs, or creations using food.

“The goal is for students to have fun and stretch their minds in creative ways,” Harrison explained, adding that students then share their work via zoom.

In preparing for Holy Week, our school community has found many inspiring ways to fulfill our Lenten tradition of charity while practicing social distancing. One example is a team of educators, alumni, and parents prepared 200 bag lunches to help provide a meal for those who might otherwise go hungry.

Educators and students also are finding opportunities for prayer and spiritual renewal while apart. They are, for instance, praying the rosary and the Stations of the Cross together, via YouTube videos. Both are thanks to the ingenuity of theology educators.

Gibbons Chaplain Father Daniel Oschwald is continuing his Sunday Scripture Study program for Lent by emailing the Sunday readings and a brief reflection each week to participants. Here's the liturgy document for the upcoming Palm Sunday celebration.

Students dramatizing the Stations of the Cross to prepare for Easter.

And student leaders of Franciscan Youth International (FYI) have been emailing prayers throughout Lent to club moderator, theology educator Mark DeLaRosa. He, in turn, posts a prayer each day on Twitter.

“There are enough leadership team members to contribute a prayer to

Twitter through Easter,” he said. “We are hopeful that our prayers touch the hearts and souls of our Gibbons community and help us focus on preparing ourselves for Holy Week.”

During this trying time, the Cardinal Gibbons school community prays that the blessings of Easter fill you with peace, happiness, joy, and hope.

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