While the country continues to face challenges and uncertainty, the H.C. Crittenden community is actively taking steps to provide social, academic, and emotional support for their students. “We try to seek opportunities that we believe in, build on them, and find the silver linings,” said Ms. Lapple, H.C. Crittenden Middle School Principal.
During X-period, small groups of students, known as x-pods, can discuss academic goals, successes, and areas for improvement while preparing for their day. X-Pods were initially intended to stagger students’ entry into the building but have since evolved. “Most adults in the building mentor a group of 10-12 students either remotely, live, or a mix of both, depending on the day,” said Mr. Angelo Ancona, H.C. Crittenden Middle School Assistant Principal. “X-pods are excellent student support, as they provide a place to review homework, go through schedules, check the portal, and they give students the consistency of one person they can connect with each day.”
Many of the larger, open spaces within HCC, including the gymnasium, cafeteria, and music rooms, needed restructuring to allow for sufficient social distancing. Several moveable walls between classrooms were opened, nearly doubling their size. “The silver lining is the caring and nurturing environment that the teachers have created,” said Ms. Lapple. “Teachers have committed to making these spaces their own - inclusive and welcoming.”
The adoption of virtual and e-learning technologies has also become a significant focus at HCC during these times. Teachers use Google Meet and collaborate daily with students in a variety of ways. ViewSonic has been a game-changer, thanks to the Byram Hills Education Foundation. HCC teachers can now adeptly and masterfully conduct hybrid classes. Also, students have the privilege of utilizing their cellphones in school on the District network and the ability to FaceTime friends and family during lunch. HCC students are socializing, engaging, and using technology responsibly and safely, another silver lining.
“I am so proud of the positive energy at HCC,” expressed Ms. Lapple. “Everyone has kept their eye on the prize, making sure that our students have the opportunity to learn, grow, and be middle schoolers. The devotion that the faculty and staff have put forward is remarkable.”