We will be sharing stories from faculty, students and parents as they experience Distance Learning. Each week we will share updates and photos from our community.
- Dealing with Disappointment
- 6 Tips For Staying Healthy
- Green Grass
- Anticipatory Grief
- Behavioral Activation
- Distance Learning Tips
- The Power of Social Support
- Webinar Recording: Changing Parenting Roles
- Top 10 Tips for Distance Learning
- Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
- Coach & Parent Talking Points for Spring Athletes
- There's an App for That
- Mr. Hager, English - June 1
- Mr. Hager, English - May 26
- Mr. Hager, English - May 18
- Mr. Hager, English - May 11
- Mr. Hager, English - May 4
- Mr. Hager, English - April 27
- Mr. Hager, English - April 20
- Mr. Hager, English - March 30
For my last assignment of the year, I am asking my students to write what I am titling as “Till Next Time Notes.” Using their newfound emailing skills, I am asking every student to send out a minimum of three notes. In a recorded video, I outlined four possible models in which students could administer these notes.
For instance, a note could be directed toward a classmate that you were never truly able to say goodbye with or achieve sufficient closure. Recipients could be classmates, friends, teammates, along with fellow club or organizational members. There is no official list of recipients, ultimately, they choose their intended subject. In the absence of personal interaction, this particular option is intended to provide some positive finality to the 2020 school year and be optimistic about future interactions.
An additional directive focuses on the concept of mentorship and imparted wisdom. Here, I encourage students to acknowledge an individual which has imparted some degree of wisdom or positive influence on their 2020 experience. Once again, this could be a classmate who helped them with their academics, a campus ministry leader, an upperclassman on an athletic team, a military platoon leader, an advisor, etc.
The beauty of these “Till Next Time Notes” is that the scope of their interactions within the STA community is wide, and they get to reach out to individuals of their choosing. In whatever fashion is best, I hope this allows my students to feel better about the conclusion of their 2020 school year, all the while staying positive about the impending “Next Time.”
Currently, my Rhetorical Skills class is in the middle acts of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo & Juliet. Teaching Shakespeare’s works is an area that I truly enjoy. With that said, teaching Shakespeare through distance learning has brought about certain challenges. Most of all, the scenes Shakespeare creates are meant to be emotionally felt and experienced, not solely read. To minimize these challenges we have been using a variety of mixed media to augment the online text.
First, the students have been reading the text with the assistance of an audio recording. Second, synchronous classes have allowed me to answer questions, clarify, and read directly to the students. Also, asynchronous classes have allowed me to focus their attention on important turning points, sonnets, and scenes. Third, select Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company videos have given us a much-needed theatre perspective. Likewise, scenes from two popular movies (1996 Leo DiCaprio & 1968 Zeffirelli) have provided heightened drama and much needed comedic relief.
Obviously this is less than ideal, but the students have responded well, and some might even walk away with an interest in the greater scope of Shakespeare’s plays.
My three American Literature and Composition classes are currently delving into a writing project. The seven possible essay prompts have been pulled from the collegiate Common Application website. If the students’ so choose, they can use these essays for their collegiate application next year. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of this assignment is for the students to produce a personal narrative reflection that they are personally proud of, and feel represents them through the medium of writing.
Not having the ability to meet in person with the students to discuss, revise, and guide their writing process has been a challenge. With that said, I am very thankful that Saint Thomas Academy is set up with the Google Docs platform. This function has allowed me to provide revisional feedback, comments, and suggestions on every student's paper electronically. Additionally, if desired, or required, I can meet with a student virtually to review his writing on a shared screen. I have been pleased with the number of students taking advantage of this opportunity. It is evident they care about the development of their writing skills.
One unique feature of this essay has been a particular focus throughout the writing process. The guidelines recommend these responses be between 250 and 650 words in length. Oftentimes, students associate superfluous writing to be a representation of better writing. Crafting a heartfelt personal narrative while being concise with your details and reflection can pose a challenge. Students have had to be selective in their word choice and decision making on whether or not to expound or downplay specific details.
The writing process is still very much a work in progress, but I am happy with the manner in which my students have handled our virtual collaboration.
The task of communicating through email seems easy enough for us adults who have evolved alongside with the evolution of email. However, this isn't necessarily the case for teenage boys. It seems to be yet another one of things we just expect them to be able to do. Yes, they have grown up with email and used it, but have they ever been instructed on how to use it? After receiving four emails in a week with blank subject lines, I was determined to find out.
After polling various students across three grade levels, I came to find out the answer to my question was very mixed. Some students were unable to recall any direct instruction at all. I knew some intervention was needed.
As a result, I dedicated an entire class session to learning about and discussing best practices for emailing. The lesson centered around a top down approach, starting with the To (recipients) section, finishing with closings in both formal and informal situations. Two of the biggest takeaways were the students' newfound fascination with the Bcc (Blind carbon copy) feature, and the necessity for an email that is visually appealing. In other words, the elimination of the “Super Paragraph.”
Both a formal and informal mode of communication, email will be with these young men for their foreseeable educational and professional careers. It was necessary to spend a class on this subject and help set them up for future success. It is unlikely that they are now expert emailers, but in days to come, I can only hope you don’t receive an email with a blank subject line from one of my students.
This semester my senior elective class, A Hero’s Journey has been examining and reading passages of mythology from various ancient cultures. After recently wrapping up a unit centered in Norse mythology, we turned our focus to Greek mythology. In contrast to the Norse epics and tales which centered around the various Gods, Greek legends are much more human-centric. Often portraying the plight of mankind trying to navigate its way through the challenges of the world.
Homer’s epic, The Odyssey is a perfect example of one man’s adventure and exploits while trying to navigate the world. Odyssey, a Greek word meaning “the tale of Odysseus” takes us on a journey with Odysseus, as well as his son Telemachus in which they are trying to return Odysseus to his throne on Ithaca. Along the way, we meet many interesting and compelling human characters during the adventures of both individuals. In hopes of making our reading of this ancient text unique and engaging, I wanted to challenge the students to put their own personal and artistic expression on the happenings of the human characters.
I asked the students to create their own fictional “Greek Tabloid Magazine” with fictional articles expounding on the behind-the-scenes insight into the lives of these characters'. Pure entertainment and creative expression was the writing objective. I was pleased with the creative articles produced and their ability to give backstory or even futuristic speculation to a culture 2,500+ years removed. Some of the more clever magazine titles included Olympic Tribute, The Olympus Insider, The Greek Files, and Greek Gossip. The articles centered around customs, weddings, romance, battles, betrayal, deception, and death.
For my well being, my wife and I have been working on landscaping the yard, and small home improvement projects.
This past week my American Literature and Composition classes wrapped up their “Truth of War” unit. The center point of the unit was the reading of Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried. One of the main driving questions of the unit was posed by Tim O’Brien himself with his chapter titled, “What Makes a True War Story?”
Although the meta-fiction intention of the novel was somewhat abstract for the students from the onset, they came to appreciate O’Briens stylistic choice of vignette chapter arrangements. By not following a traditional plot-line arch we were able to bounce around between chapters, thus, granting a unique emphatic glimpse into the characters of the novel. The goal was to have each student ponder the perspective of the presented character and come to his conclusion of what might be that character's “truth.”
To augment the unit, the students interacted with various other forms of mixed media content. Sources included the PBS documentary, The Vietnam War, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. In addition, we examined the evolution of war journalism from 19th-century conflicts extending to the unfortunate death of international reporter James Foley in 2014. I was pleased with the students' ability to establish connections between the various sources and appreciate the plight of war journalists and their ceaseless desire to present the truth.
For my well-being, I took my first adventure in search of Minnesota trout. As a fly fisherman originally from the East Coast--April signifies trout season. My travels took me to the greater Winona area, and a beautiful catch-and-release stretch of water. The air temperature was comfortable, and some amenable brown trout made for a fine day.
Freelance journalist, Scott Stowell was recently featured in an outdoor article in the Star Tribune. Stowell writes:
When I spend time in nature, I recognize life that’s bigger than me. Sometimes it’s a moose. Other times, it’s even bigger-- not of a physical world-- in the form of a spiritual or intuitive awareness. A microscopic germ has recently become bigger than all of us. We cannot ignore the coronavirus. But we can attempt to mitigate its influence. I head to nature and set aside everyday life, hoping to grow for the better. (Stowell, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Values, 4/4/2020)
Having similar sentiments to Sowell, I also wanted to inspire my students to “add nature and growth to their mitigation plan.”
Now that winter has lost its grip, the turn of the season brings new energy, growth, perspective, and life. Spring has always been a favorite season amongst naturalist and conservationist writers. This past week, my Rhetorical Skills class read various excerpts from some of the most prominent naturalist writers such as H.D. Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Sigurd Olson.
The students were excited and intrigued by the Upper Midwest origins of both Aldo Leopold and Sig Olson. In particular, after learning about Sig Olson, and his unwavering dream to establish the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) I had numerous students say, “I’ve been there, It’s an awesome place…I never knew its history though.”
This week I’m asking these same students to get outside and observe nature for a minimum of thirty minutes. I’ve encouraged them to ask their parents if they happen to have any old field-manuals, or even a set of binoculars. Although I don’t know each student's unique living situation, I didn’t want to make this request burdensome or complicated. “Nature” can be as simple and basic as a backyard, a backy-patio, a local park, a local pond, wetland, or trail. Whatever is safe, and accessible.
While outside, the students are encouraged to keep in mind the writings and lessons we have read about from Thoreau, Leopold, Muir, and Olson. If possible I want them to think along similar lines and imitate them. Contemplate what they would do at your location. Eventually, students will turn their observations and notes into a personal writing piece. I hope this experience allows these students the opportunity to “grow” in a manner unique to them.
For my well being, I have been scouting for wild turkeys since the hunting season is now open. For an additional challenge, I have elected to pursue turkey via an archery tag.
This past week I took a page out of John Wooden’s playbook. The legendary college basketball coach was famous for commencing the first day of practice in a unique way. He would instruct all players, even upper-classmen, on how to properly put on their socks and how to tightly lace up their sneakers. The ultimate goal of this lesson was to prevent blisters, therefore, allowing Wooden to get the most out of his athletes during practice.
Similarly to Wooden, I also wanted to start from the ground up. I constructed a “How-To” video on how students could create a workspace to help them meet their educational needs during this time of online learning. Topics included carving out a workspace, desk construction, establishing a schedule, setting expectations, dressing the part, and incorporating motivational items.
I didn’t want to just assume that the students had done these things on their own. I wanted to provide some instruction and resources to help them be successful. Although it seems “Old School,” and maybe overly simplistic, the feedback I received was reassuring of my intent. I received numerous photos of elaborate, as well as very creative desks. Through an email, one freshman student stated, “Just got done watching your video and I now realize how nice it is to have a personal workspace with a desk. I would like to let you know that your video inspired me to make a daily online learning schedule that I will try to follow to the best of my ability". In addition, a junior student wrote, “Howdy, hope all is well with you are your family. The first two days of your class were definitely the simplest and quickest to finish out of any of my other classes. I also found them to be the most helpful and important lessons from any of my classes. I set up a nice space in our front room. Got the table to myself, plenty of space to use and have everything I’m gonna need in there. I really enjoyed the coach Wooden lesson, made me think about how to prepare for all of this remote learning stuff and to set expectations for myself”.
I am extremely proud of the manner in which our Cadets have adapted to the current situation. Moreover, I am excited to begin week two of online learning.
For my own well being, I have used some of this extra time to learn more about my new state of Minnesota. Recently, I have read two books to help me to get a better sense of the state. The first was a nonfiction historical book titled, Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century by Iric Nathanson. The second was a fictional novel, Vermilion Drift by Kent Krueger. I am open to receiving reading recommendations.
- Patrick Koegel '24 - June 1
- Nick Mork '23 - June 1
- Jordan Young '21 - June 1
- Nick Mork '23 - May 26
- Jordan Young '21 - May 26
- Nick Mork '23 - May 18
- Jordan Young '21 - May 18
- Nick Mork '23 - May 11
- Jordan Young '21 - May 11
- Patrick Koegel '24 - May 4
- Jordan Young '21 - May 4
- Baker Reding '21 - April
- John Gaylord '21 - April
- Jordan Young '21 - April
- Nick Mork '23 - April
- Patrick Koegel '24 - April
This past week has had its ups and downs, although I am sad to be saying goodbye to my middle school teachers I am excited to be a freshman next year. Our 8th grade graduation is next week where we have a virtual part and a part where we drive up to the middle school to see our teachers and get some bling for next year. I am overall excited about freshman year and freshman football. This past week I have also been attending the football workouts with Coach O'brien and Rosga. They have been challenging but I know that that's how we are going to stay in shape for the upcoming season, and is an important role for taking state next year. I would like to end this with thanking some specific people who have made this possible, Thank you the teachers who were able to adapt so quickly, my friends for making Online learning fun, and my parents for putting up with me during this time.
Looking back on my freshman year at Saint Thomas, I am met with so many priceless memories socially, academically, and athletically. It couldn’t have been achieved without the hard work of the wonderful facility and staff. The year was so much fun, and I am truly excited for my sophomore year. Although, a nice summer break will be very relaxing and refreshing. While online school wasn’t quite the same as regular schooling, we did learn a lot more than I expected. From what I have heard, the online learning at Saint Thomas was way better and more rigorous than any other school, public or private. Hoping and praying to return to a normal cadet school year next year!
Last week was my kind of "goodbye for the year" week for a good amount of my classes. I had my final meeting for a few of my classes, and my final project for a few others. While it wasn't the end I had hoped for, and certainly not the one that I expected, I did feel like diSTAnce learning was a success, and I feel like I learned just as much this year as I would have if we were in the physical classroom together. I am definitely looking forward to next year, as it brings a lot of leadership opportunities in clubs and sports that I have been participating in throughout my time here. I am also looking forward to the last ride with my brothers, knowing that next year will probably be the last time that I spend with the bulk of them. But first I have to finish this week; a week that includes two papers and four projects. Boy, these teachers do like to keep us grinding until the end of the year. I do appreciate it though; especially Mr. O'Connell, who is using this final week, as well as last week, to help us brainstorm ideas and write preliminary drafts for our Common Application essays, in order to ensure that we start them now and don't wait until the last minute, because let me tell you if there's one thing every teenager is good at, it's procrastination. This week, I am attending the US Naval Academy's virtual summer seminar, which is a three-and-a-half day program designed to prepare potential midshipmen for what life would be like at the Academy. While I am going to miss this school year, I am excited for the summer and the opportunity to hang out with my friends in the parks and lakes of this great state. I am also looking forward to my summer baseball season, where my team and I get to travel to the south and play in front of big DI school college coaches.
Until next fall; stay safe and thanks for a great year!
With all the changes that Covid-19 has brought, I believe it is as important as ever to stick to a routine. It prevents us from procrastinating while restoring a sense of normalcy to our lives. From Monday to Friday, my routine consists of waking up around 8:30 a.m., doing homework and zoom calls until 12, eating lunch, and finishing my schoolwork around 2-3. After that I will do a workout for 30 minutes, then practice hockey in my basement. Following that I may golf with family or friends, go for a bike ride, play tennis, or do some sort of outdoor activity. After this I will eat dinner, then maybe play xbox with friends for about 45 minutes before going to bed around 10-10:30 p.m. I believe that this routine has kept me in check and refreshed for each and every day.
Last week was my last week of having a lot of stuff to do. I took my last AP Exam, AP Chinese, on Monday, and I finished up some final labs and projects for a few of my other classes throughout the week. As a lot of my classes had a good amount of seniors in them, and the seniors are done with school for the yeafor many of these classes have toned down the workload and we are basically done with hard work for these classes for the year. There are a couple of classes that still feel the need to assign three homework assignments a day, but the numbers are limited. Well the number is one actually. This week is the beginning of the end of this year, and while it definitely wasn't the junior year I hoped for, or thought would occur, I think the year went pretty well. And although I missed out on events like Mil Ball and trying to win back to back baseball state championships, I am happy that I got to do what I did throughout the year, and that things are looking up for the summer.
Everybody likes to have fun. Saint Thomas Academy is a place, believe it or not, that is a lot of fun. While school can be tough at times, throughout the day cadets will find time to have fun with their brothers. Whether it is by talking and messing around before and after formation, joking around in the halls, poking at each other during lunch, or spending time with each other in class, the teachers and staff are actually very easygoing about cadets having fun during the day. Teachers actually often embrace this culture by joining in with us. I can guarantee that kids at Saint Thomas easily have more fun than any other school.
This past week was really stressful, but really relieving. I had my first AP Test last Tuesday. I took the AP Calculus BC Exam for the second year in a row, as I took the AP Calculus BC course last year. I got a 3 on the exam last year, but I wanted to get at least a 4 and hopefully a 5. I think it actually went really well and I think I did well enough on the exam to get a 5, but we'll just have to wait and see I guess. On Friday, I took the AP United States History Exam, which I was pretty worried about, because I didn't do the greatest in the AP World History Exam last year, despite having success in the class. I did a lot of studying the few nights leading up to the exam: compiling notes, watching Crash Course videos, and whatnot. I think that exam went pretty well as well, which is in part due to the fact that I got an essay topic that I knew a good amount about. Finally, my AP Chinese Exam was this morning. Before the exam, I was sure that I would do poorly, because 85 percent of people that take the exam speak fluent Chinese at home, and 80 percent of people who take the exam get a 5, which means that more people speak fluent Chinese than get a 5 on the AP Chinese Exam. My goal was a 2 originally, but after taking the test this morning, I actually think I did pretty well, and I feel like I could have gotten a 3 and maybe even a 4, although that is unlikely. Ultimately, I am just glad that I am done with AP Exams, and I feel like I have a big weight off of my shoulders.
After attending the food giving drive thru, it reminded me of one thing - how special the Saint Thomas community really is. Surrounding yourself with caring, like-minded people is essential to setting yourself up for success in the future. The positive environment that every student is in every day at Saint Thomas really becomes implemented into his character. This is why the popular phrase “they come in as boys and they leave as young men of character” is used so often around the Academy. The community that the parents, teachers, staff, and the students form is one of the very important aspects that make Saint Thomas different from the rest. I believe that this is why every kid should, at the very least, look at Saint Thomas for high school. So often kids give it a chance because their parents want them to, and they fall in love with it.
Last week was tough. I was pretty much studying for my AP Exams nonstop, and when I wasn't studying, I was doing homework for other classes. I am taking three AP Exams this year: AP Calculus BC, AP US History, and AP Chinese. This is the second year that I'm taking the AP Calculus BC Exam, because I took the course last year. I did fine last year, but I am really trying to get a 5 this time around. I have that AP test on Tuesday, so I am going to continue to prepare studiously today in order to maximize my potential success on that. I also had to do a lot of studying for the AP US History Exam. Mr. Hoverson did a really good job helping the class practice writing DBQs and analyzing documents. I have that AP test on Friday, so I have a good little two day break in between my two exams this week. The AP Exam that I am most worried about is my AP Chinese Exam. I had to attempt to do a lot of preparation last week to get ready for that test, but I don't know how well that is going to go. Basically, the AP Chinese test is supposedly the "easiest exam," because it has the highest percent of 5s, at 62%. But that's because a good 80-90 percent of people who take AP Chinese speak fluent Chinese already, or they have parents that speak Mandarin Chinese at home. I'm going to try to get a 3, but on that Exam, that in itself is going to be a tough task. Luckily, that test is next week, so I can focus on my AP Calc BC and AP US History Exams this week. Hopefully, I can get a 4 or 5 on both of those, and I can somehow muster a 3 on the AP Chinese Exam. Either way, it's going to be another tough week of AP Test preparation, but I am excited, because once AP Exams are done, my year gets a whole lot easier!
This week was great! As I anticipated the week before my teachers were very manageable and I didn't have much trouble with my work. Something that our teachers are doing more is taking attendance. They were also making it worth points which could either help or hurt our grades, but it got everyone to attend the meetings. One thing that I was really happy about is that our 8th grade graduation isn't going to be canceled. We are doing a virtual presentation first then later we go to the middle school where we can see all of our teachers and friends in person! I'm really happy that I have something to look forward to in the future, besides summer.
Last week was the last week of April. Wow! I lost count of the calendar and I didn't even realize that this school year is almost over. We have just about one month left I believe. This year has been crazy. Never in my life did I think that I would spend a bulk of my junior year with strict orders not to leave the house: that seems like something out of a movie. Last week was a pretty basic week though, school wise. I had a good amount of AP Exam preparation that I had to do, as well as a lot of projects, papers, and presentations, especially in religion class. Athletics wise, the whole baseball team got on a Zoom call and we talked about last season and how we were all sad that we couldn't play this year. It was good to have the opportunity to talk with the whole team and see how everybody was doing. I also had a meeting with the WashU baseball coaching staff, which went pretty well I think. It was my first recruiting meeting, so it was a new and exciting experience for me. Sunday, May 3, was my good friend Oliver Balfour's eighteenth birthday, so some of the boys went over to his house to stand in his front yard and eat donuts and drink Powerade to celebrate. It was really cool to see a lot of my friends again, and don't worry, we were all standing a safe distance apart. We talked about school and work, but most of the conversation was about the hit new Netflix show "Outer Banks." The 10-episode season one dropped recently, and it has been a hit ever since. Hopefully, quarantine can end soon so they can film a second season. Overall, I'd give the show a solid 8.7/10, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that has Netflix. This week is going to be a tough one, as the grind for AP Exams really kicks into full gear the week leading up to them. But I'm ready for the challenge, and another great week of diSTAnce learning!
The Day in the life of a DiSTAnce Learner
DiSTAnce Learning can be tricky and very routine, but I have certainly found a system that works for my style of learning. On a typical day, I wake up around 8:30 or 9 A.M. depending on how ambitious I am feeling. I lay in bed watching Tik Tok for a solid 15-20 minutes to keep up with the latest trends, but I eventually get out of bed. I rub my eyes to ensure that quarantine is still not a dream and continue on with my day. Once my teeth are brushed and I am in my school uniform, pajamas, I head downstairs to make myself some coffee. Throughout the course of distance learning, I have gotten very lazy about whether I make breakfast or not. Typically, I just grab a banana or a CliffBar, but I am flexible with my decision. Once my coffee is brewed, I head to my workspace, which is a desk in an extra room of my house. I set my coffee down and log in to my PowerSchool account to begin assessing what I need to do for the day and the rest of the week.
Depending on what is going on in my classes I may have a Zoom discussion or check in with my classmates and teachers. During these online check-ins, it is always fun to see my friends and ask about how they are doing. The worst part about not going to school is not being able to walk into the cafeteria every morning to see all my friends and talk to them. At about Noon or so I like to head to the kitchen to make myself a sandwich. My brothers and I drive my mom crazy because we always complain about the lack of food in the house when there is “always food.” After I eat my sandwich and see what the rest of my family is up to, I head back upstairs to make one final push for the “end” of the day. I make sure I have watched all the lectures or looked over all the notes I am responsible for and ensure all my assignments are turned in.
When I know that all my work is done, I close my computer, change into workout clothes and hit my makeshift gym in my basement. Coach Rosga has prepared workouts for the lacrosse team during quarantine, so I always have something to do. The workouts also give me a chance to get away from “school” to focus on myself. Once I get a sweat in and shower up, I see if my mom needs any help with dinner. From about 4-6 PM I can get pretty bored, so I either play football with my brother, throw the lacrosse ball, or play ping pong. My brother and I broke out our old ping pong table and cleaned it up, it has been the best thing all quarantine. Having something to do and get better at has been very beneficial to ensure mental stability while being cooped up in my house. After a delicious meal, my brothers and I head down to play ping pong again and shortly after that I hop on the PS4 to play Need for Speed with John Gaylord ’21. I usually go to bed around 11-11:30 PM during the course of online school, but this is not much later than I would during normal school. I wake up the next morning and repeat the same routine.
In my opinion, this last week of DiSTAnce Learning was by far the smoothest. Kids are starting to get the hang of their new schedules, teachers have mastered tools like Zoom, and from what I can tell, people have begun to accept the reality of our situation. As boring as it gets being stuck at home, it is important to find some healthy outlets. For me, this means shooting baskets, drawing, FaceTiming my friends, and more. It's usually the highlight of my day to finish homework and get on a call with all the boys, and just decompress. Since we can't hang out like normal, it forces us to be creative in our interactions. A few ideas include FaceTiming, video games, or even just meeting up and staying in your cars. Things like that have been getting me through my quarantine, and I hope they help you too!
These last few weeks have just made me realize how much I take STA for granted. I miss seeing my friends every day at school, and I especially miss having lunch ready for me. It takes some extra planning and time management to make sure I get three solid meals a day. It's easy to get caught up in other things, but I have found that eating well is key to staying positive.
On Monday I woke up around 9:00 to get ready for my book discussion zoom for Mr. O’Connell’s class. We talked about Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and the significance of the chapters assigned for that day. It was really nice to talk with the rest of the class about the book like we would in a regular class. This ensured we were all taking away the same messages from the book. While working on the rest of my homework I just had to take advantage of the nice weather. I took a lengthy break to go shoot some baskets and go for a drive. Coming back with a refreshed mind it was easy to bang out the rest of my assignments.
On Tuesday, some buddies and I set up a little study group for our chemistry quiz on molarity the next day. I’m definitely someone that benefits from studying with friends, so that was a huge help. After about 30 minutes we all felt ready so we hung up and worked on our other classes. Needing to get out of the house for a little bit, I went for a drive around Mendota and kicked the soccer ball around for a little bit.
Wednesday was pretty light day for me. I woke up and took my chemistry quiz and had the rest of the day to myself. I took advantage of it and decided to bike downtown St. Paul and sit by the river for a little bit. It was super fun, and was a great way to get some exercise. Later that day, Oscar Berg and I presented our report on St. Thomas Aquinas to Mr. Loecken via Google Hangouts. Although we had some technical difficulties it went very smoothly, and I thought we did a nice job.
Being free of assignments for the weekend, I got to sleep in late every morning and hang out with my parents. It was a great Easter weekend!
This week went great! I was finally able to see some of my friends again through our class Zoom meetings that we began this week. I had some class discussions in Chinese and English class that I felt went better than the discussions that we had in class before this virus. Aside from academics, I started to read every morning as a way to wake up my brain and get ready for the day. I am currently reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and I really enjoy it. I have found that reading calms my brain and allows my body to begin to wake up and function.
I also have had a lot more time to work out, which has really benefited me. Every day, I will do a thirty minute session where I stretch and do some body weight work, like pushups, situps, squats, and bicycle kicks. Later in the day, I make sure that I get outside with my younger brother. We play baseball, football, and basketball together, which we never had time to do before. Of course, I don't always spend my time as wisely as I should, and I do play some video games in my free time as well. As long as I don't play for too long, I find nothing wrong with gaming a little bit. This week, I'm going to have a couple online presentations in Chinese and Church History, so I am excited to see how those go. I am looking forward to another great week of diSTAnce learning!
Last week was a short one, but was still jam packed with activities. Because we were going into a short little break, teachers assigned a couple projects to complete before that time -- I had a presentation on the Crusades in my Church History class, and discussions in Chinese and English class. Aside from school, I think the weirdest thing was the actual Easter break. Normally, I would look forward to seeing my extended family, and having everyone go to Church on Sunday morning, and having Easter brunch afterwards. This year, obviously, that wasn't possible, which made the whole Easter season pretty weird. We tried to make the best of it though; our family watched our Church's live recording of the service. Then, my sister baked some strawberry shortcake with my mom and we all sat down for our best attempt at a homemade Easter brunch. Overall, the Easter weekend, while different and challenging, turned out pretty well, and I was still able to get to spend time with my family.
Quick recap of what happened last week: it snowed! Yep, a classic Minnesota April dusting of snow was what I woke up to last Monday and Tuesday. Luckily, the following days' 60+ degree weather melted the snow pretty quickly. There really is nothing like a snowstorm, followed by some of the nicest days of the year. Anyway, last week was good. I started the new system where I have a Zoom meeting with all of my classes once per week. Although in some meetings not much was accomplished, it was nice to see some of my friends' faces that I wouldn't normally get to see. I was able to get outside and enjoy the warm weather later in the week too: I set up my hitting net and hit baseballs off the tee for hours on Friday, and I worked out and played football outside with my little brother on Saturday. It was good to have some warm weather to enjoy. It was also wonderful to hear some good news that golf courses opened this past Saturday, so hopefully things can keep moving in the right direction and we can start playing spring sports sooner rather than later.
Last week had some ups and downs. Starting with the negatives, the saddest news to come out of last week was that Governor Walz announced the cancellation of all spring sports for this year. Our baseball team was especially disappointing, seeing as we were trying to make a repeat run of our championship season last year. While I understood the decision, as the health of our youth is paramount, it was nonetheless disappointing to hear that I would have to wait until summer ball to get a chance to get back on the field and do what I love. I felt especially bad for the seniors that weren't planning on playing sports in college, because this year would have been their last year not only of high school sports, but perhaps of organized sports in their lives, which really puts into perspective what this season would have meant to those guys. T
here were some good things to come out of last week though. On the same day that I got the news about my spring baseball season being cancelled, I got the news that I had been selected to be a Peer Mentor Captain next year, which was awesome, and something I am really looking forward to this summer and into next school year. Additionally, the weather last week was really nice for the most part, so my younger brother and I made sure to get outside and play football, baseball, and basketball together everyday. This week, I have quite a few class meetings and discussions, as well as a Zoom Meeting with the baseball coaching staff at Washington University-St. Louis, so hopefully those meetings all go well and I have another great week of diSTAnce learning!
With another week of DiSTAnce Learning passing by, I find myself once again hoping for the resumption of school this year, but I know the virus has had a much worse effect on others, so I cannot feel that bad. I am staying connected with other classmates through talking on the phone, FaceTiming them about school and life, and playing xbox on the weekends with them. I performed my schoolwork this week on the desk in my room, and the teachers have been very helpful in accommodating issue here and there that will come up with new experiences. Stay safe!
After taking some time to ponder upon what I miss most about Saint Thomas and why my friends at Saint Thomas are missing school a lot more than my friends at other schools, one thing unique stands out. The brotherhood of Saint Thomas is what makes it so special. While at every school people will have their close friend groups, they do not share a bond with people not in their clique. At Saint Thomas, there is a special bond shared between people who we are with outside of school, and people we don't necessarily see on a regular basis on weekends. There is also a camaraderie with students of different grades. It is not unusual to be very close with students of another grade. It is this brotherhood that is formed by the military, college prep, all-male, and religious aspects of Saint Thomas, and what each cadet loves about Saint Thomas.
After hearing the news that school is officially shut down for the rest of the year, I thought about why I was sad that my freshman year had come to a close. Following some thought, I had come to the conclusion that it was a variety of things that make this school what it is. Our great teachers are always there when we need them, and they push us to do our best even when it can be hard. Our fellow classmates are always there for us wether we need someone to talk to or just need a laugh. Our coaches help us improve at a certain craft, while teaching us important lessons about life. And the history and culture that Saint Thomas has make us always strive for excellence while having a little fun doing so.
When I am not doing homework or classwork I try to find things to do and more often than not, I find myself watching Netflix on the couch or playing Call of Duty for a couple hours. My mom has been on me about getting outside, for example, I have been taking walks with her or even shooting hoops outside for an hour. Overall this week has been a lot better for me, because I feel more comfortable with this style of learning and am prepared to continue doing this style of learning until I go back to waking up at 6 AM to get ready for School.
This week was great, because of the short week I was able to sleep in even more and get even more time on break. Although the week went by fast my teachers tried to make every last minute of it a learning experience. I got many assignments in such a short time frame that it was hard to make sure they all got done by 3 pm Wednesday. Luckily with the help from my mom I was able to get everything turned in on time.
Timing wasn't the only struggle I faced this week, interaction with my friends was a problem too. The worst part about all of this is the little interaction you can have with people. FaceTime has kept me sane but it is really hard not being able to see my friends face to face and even in the classroom environment.
Overall this week went by fast and I look forward to what the coming week has to offer and what my teachers will assign me to keep me busy. I never thought about how hard it would be to live without my school, friends, and sports but just like everyone else I'm managing.
This week went by as normal as it could be. With the launch of Distance Learning 2.0 I got to meet with my teachers and scattered times during the week and we talked about upcoming things, assignments, and projects. This was very helpful to get everyone on the same page and to just check in on how distance learning is going for everyone. Overall this week I would say went very smoothly and made it better for us to communicate with our teachers on questions and problems we might have.
This week was very difficult. I don't think it was possible for my teachers to assign so many assignments in one week. It helped a lot that I was able to meet with them and to ask questions about the assignments. My teachers were very understanding which helped but as we keeping diving deeper into online learning, teachers will start getting stricter about due dates and assignment formats. Overall I got all my work done and turned in (which was a relief) on time and hope to have a great next week!
My name is Patrick Koegel and I will be describing my first week of online learning. This first week of online learning brought me many things, stress was one of them. Doing things remotely online can be a struggle in some cases. If you recall the week leading up to spring break, we ended the week early due to close cases of the Coronavirus to school. This means that we still had homework that we needed to do before break. When we picked school back up this past Wednesday teachers gave us assignments to settle us back in and times that we could email them if we needed help, and let me tell you I fully utilized that tool. Most of my teachers gave me assignments that were either reviewed or things that we quickly touched on before the early beginning of break. I thought that this was a very smart decision because with the early start to break and the two extra days after break that we had before online learning started it was hard to get back into the mindset. I had to quickly adapt knowing that the end of the quarter was rapidly approaching and I had to do everything I could to stay in the grade area I worked hard for in the time leading up to this time. My stress levels went from a 10 to almost nothing when I saw that Director of the Middle School Mr. Jurkovich was making morning announcements about what the plans were for the day and what we should expect in the near future. Mr. Jurkovivh wasn't the only one making these fun and quick videos, many of my other teachers were being sent over 50 emails a day on how they should do assignments that they made videos on how to submit and do certain assignments. Overall my teachers have been very understanding of when Unified Classroom might not load right away or all the problems that it was having throughout the week and that as long as they have it by a certain time that everything is going to be okay. In closing, “I look forward to another week of Emmy winning video performances by my STA teachers”!
I preformed my online learning this week from Florida. The first week of online learning felt more like school than I had anticipated, and I was doing school work for about 5-6 hours. As a whole, the student body is actually missing having school and seeing everyone. We miss the daily interactions between fellow cadets, and the awesome atmosphere that Saint Thomas possesses every day. I hope to return to school soon!
Online learning is everything you would imagine. When I first opened PowerSchool on Wednesday morning, I saw a lot of assignments, but as I began to plan out my week it was not bad at all. The nice thing about this whole online learning thing is you are able to use every hour in the day to get as far ahead as possible with your assignments. On Wednesday, the first day of distance learning, I got right into it. I woke up at 10 am, which was perfect for me, and began my assignments. With no specific time to work on classes, I was able to choose which assignments I wanted to do first and which to save for later in the week or day. Additionally, the majority of my teachers post a PDF of the week's tasks and many assignments are due on Sunday night which allows me to go in any order I want. When Thursday came I had a system down and put it to use. I got as many assignments done as I could that day which left me a Friday with a few lectures to watch and that was it. Throughout the week there were quite a bit of technical issues on PowerSchool Unified Classroom, but they were eventually worked out and everything is smooth now. I hope this gives you an insight into what online learning is like for a student. Overall, it is not too bad as long as you are diligent about getting your work done and staying focused through this odd time. Stay safe and healthy!
This week was unlike any other week that I had ever experienced. The thought of online learning had never crossed my mind before now, but these are just the times that we live in. On Tuesday, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had talked with many of my friends about if they knew what this distance learning program was going to entail. We were all pretty worried that the distance learning plan wasn't going to work out. Luckily, we were wrong. In accordance with the plan, all of my teachers uploaded their plans, objectives, and assignments for the week to their class pages on PLearning. From there, I was able to see not only my homework for the day, but also review weekly schedules, upcoming projects and assignments, and recorded lectures. Ultimately, I found that our distance learning program worked really well for the most part. Aside from PLearning crashing a few times, which is no fault to anyone domestically, I think that my first week of distance learning went splendidly. Both my brother and sister attend Visitation, and I believe that they felt the same way about their first week of online learning. The biggest challenges are technology failure and lack of physical interaction, but with the COVID-19 virus still spreading, we will just have to embrace the challenges and continue to strive for excellence.
- Marie Cattanach - June 1
- Kari Mawn - June 1
- Marie Cattanach - May 26
- Marie Cattanach - May 18
- Kari Mawn - May 18
- Marie Cattanach - May 11
- Kari Mawn - May 11
- Marie Cattanach - May 4
- Marie Cattanach - April
- Kari Mawn - April
When this week began, I had no idea that our main learning would be from me at home. The tragedy with George Floyd began many difficult and uncomfortable conversations. I don’t know if I ever had the right answers, but I did do a lot of reading and open dialogue with the kids. No one wants to be part of the ongoing problem, so it’s important to be very open and honest with our kids to help push change forward. The year of 2020 will have a thick chapter in Minnesota history. Prayers continue.
School is wrapping up. The boys are ready to take that off their plates, but what will summer look like? Remember when our kids were little, (I still have little ones) and the first day of school came and the parents were super excited. Moms count down the last month until they are back in someone else’s hands for months. I’m always the one who misses the loud house. I like having my whole team at home. We work together well and enjoy being less scheduled and stressed.
This year, I’ll be happy for my kids to start school. Not because I want them out of my day and house, but because THEY miss school. They miss their friends. They miss the teachers standing in front of them teaching. Before the pandemic they didn’t fully appreciate how blessed they were to go to such an amazing school. In the fall they will be super excited to gather again in the building and be feeling the Brotherhood. As moms, we will be excited for them.
What a year it has been! I will never forget 2020! From a global pandemic to biting gnats and murder hornets, I did not think the world could get any scarier. Then the murder of George Floyd happened. Just as we were moving on from all the missed memories and canceled events a completely brutal action by police highlighted the complex social issue of police brutality and racism. Chaos and curfews were implemented and fear took over as protests turned into riots.
This past week should have been a time of carefree celebration for lots of seniors, including Hunters oldest sister, Alex who graduated from Edina High School. Nationwide the Class of 2020 have already missed so much! There was discussion about canceling the “mobile graduation” out of respect and because it did not feel like a time of celebration. Luckily the protests returned to more peaceful & productive occasions and mobile graduation "was a go".
On Sunday, a decorated school bus pulled up to our house to give Alex her diploma and we ended the day with a neighborhood “Parade of Seniors.” While it was not a traditional ceremony - in some ways it was better. The new normal made us rethink how to celebrate and spread joy. We delivered clappers and pom poms to every neighbors house and asked them to join us ion the sidewalk for Alex's graduation.
We decorated the neighborhood together, passed out flyers and met neighbors we had not met before. We know where every single senior lives in our neighborhood regardless of school and we celebrated together!
The recent death of George Floyd, the pandemic and distance learning have taken away so much but it has helped us focus on forming new relationships, build existing relationships and to rethink our community and priorities. My girls are done with school and summer has started for them! Hunter can feel summer coming and can’t wait to put distance learning in the past. I hope when we all return to STA in the Fall (and we will - thanks to the amazing email we just received) that we don’t take being together for granted. I hope we show up when invited, that we work on relationships with new families and that we make a bigger effort than before to build our community. Because the #1 thing I learned during quarantine and curfew is a strong community is vital. Our community makes us stronger and gives us purpose. I am proud to be a member of the STA community and I can not wait to get back together in the Fall!
Family archery challenge! Mom wins...or at least stays close.
Memorial Day is often thought of the first official weekend of summer. Many people head to a lake place, get the docks, boats, and cabins ready for the fun next few month to follow. It’s a working weekend for most. However, it is a holiday dedicated to the men and woman who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. The only reason we can have the ability to have our freedoms and live our best lives is because of our military. Let’s say a prayer for all who gave their lives for our freedom and pray for safety and guidance for our soldiers who continue to have that willingness to lay down their lives for our country.
Enough on my soapbox. Two short weeks is all that the boys have left. You can feel the excitement building to get to the end. Many teachers have posted the final assignments so the boys can see what they have left. It’s such an incentive to hold strong and finish. No one knows what summer holds or what school will look like in the fall, but the reset button is close. Keep up the fight fellas!
There are things I’ve come to enjoy from this period of time and I hope we move forward with those changes continuing. I think people have actually started to wash their hands more often. No longer do I wait at a deli counter since it’s prepackaged and set out for anyone. Many less papers come home from school since assignments are turned in online. Neighbors actually wave and shout a hello since they are desperate for contact too. Bike shops are busy since everyone is going back to riding around town. Workouts often consist of body weight exercises which is so amazing and always available to you. Meetings are done from the convenience of your computer so you waste less time going to locations. Siblings are forced to interact and families eat dinner together. These are just some of my observations of the good. I’m looking forward to a new normal with more value on family and togetherness.
Online learning continues. Only three more weeks to try to stay focused. I believe that we stay on task and try new things in the hope that we can establish routines to carry forward. We all hope that school starts in the building next fall, but in the event that it doesn’t, I want to have MY plan. Like the teachers, I’m going to take time this summer to evaluate how I can be better prepared and ready.
This Saturday I met some of my close workout buddies at the Y. We all brought our own equipment and stayed far away from each other. It felt amazing to teach a new platform to my friends and enjoy sweating together. For a moment in my day, life was normal. Just that hour breathed new life into this experience.
Our kids are missing human contact. My kids have not seen other people except neighbors walking by. Slowly, and safely I need to bring them back into the world. Shielding them is not possible forever. So, we went to the DQ drive-thru. They were elated for the $6 buck lunch. My goal is to change up their days so the memories are of fun...not house arrest without cause.
Honestly I'm not sure if the days are flying by or creeping along. I can’t believe it had been 2 months of lockdown. I am grateful for the small changes that are starting with more businesses opening and small group gatherings allowed this week. I’m not sure how many more weeks of isolation we could have endured in our house. Summer is only weeks away and yet we still aren’t sure how summer will look. One thing is certain - we will spend our summer training a new puppy! Last week we picked up Hank, a 9 week old Newfypoo. He has rocked our world! He is the cutest, funniest puppy but he is a handful. He does not love his crate at night and since he will eventually be about 120 pounds, he eats non-stop, plays hard and then naps!
Making space for a new puppy and the constant potty training trips outside magnify and multiply the mess in the house. How are there still so many spaces in my house that still need cleaned out or organized? You would think after 2 months at home there would be no spaces left. Sometimes I feel quarantine pressure to get lots done and take advantage of the “extra” time. Now with the school year winding down I feel even more pressure. Hoping the “quarantine fatigue” will wear off and we all get a 2nd burst of energy to finish out this bizarre, untraditional time.
Looking back I am amazed how well we all adapted to a drastic change so quickly. I am impressed with the creative ways we immediately rethought how to celebrate and support those special occasions that we would be missed. I know we can’t go back and make up for everything we missed but hopefully we all come out stronger and more grateful! And feel free to add Hank (and me) to your prayers:) Pray he will sleep thru the night and magically become potty trained! Because even with 3 kids and husband home full time, I am the only one who notices the bathroom accidents and hears him crying at night.
PJ and I participated in the STA food drive. What a powerful experience. Many of us were willing to wait in line over an hour to see our STA community. It was the boost our boys needed to feel the connection to the “Brotherhood”. I overheard that seniors were circling back just for one more moment of seeing their loving teachers. I’m sure the food collected will have a huge impact in the community, and I hope they feel the love it came from.
I’d be a fake person if I didn’t admit that online learning still has some challenges. I wish my kids would just be willing to admit they need help. Teachers are very willing to help and want to be part of the learning process. However, they can’t see the frustration or confusion when you have your video off or are working on assignments by yourself. They haven’t learned psychic abilities to know which students needs a check in call or a personal message.
I start questioning myself as a parent. Have my kids not seen how much I struggle figuring things out? My friends would tell you that I am constantly looking for support and advisements. I don’t need to know how if I can figure out who. Who do I know that will show me or help me learn? I think of myself as a very approachable person willing to help share what I’ve learned. My hope is that others don’t mind giving me a hand. Same applies to school. I have reached out to teachers. They are willing to help ME along this journey.
My hope is that in the next four weeks left, my kids are more open to admitting to their teachers that they are lost and need help. This is a life skill. I’m a fitness instructor. I appreciate it when people tell me ahead of time that they are new so I can give them some personal time before or after class to keep them safe. Learning correct form the first time is easier than retraining muscles. It takes 1,000 correct reps to correct 1 bad form habit. Same with school concepts, learn it right the first time and it won’t be as confusing adding on later.
The days and weeks all blur together now. I really miss pre-corona days when we hugged freely and gathered often. The sense of loss seems stronger as each week passes - banquets missed, senior night cancelled - the list goes on. My kids have had a really good attitude about it until lately. My senior daughter missed her prom this weekend, my sophomore daughter may stage a coup if she can’t take her drivers test soon and Hunter misses the camaraderie of physically be in school and seeing friends. I was chatting with another STA mom, Liz Hudson and she summed it up perfectly. "School is all the vegetables with no dessert" right now. I could not agree more and hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us.
This Saturday’s auction was amazing. The Fire was fueled by the night. To be able to execute a memorable, and successful night was no small task! Thank you to all who worked tirelessly to make the event happen. Your courage to carry us forward won’t be forgotten.
I think STA has really gotten the boys into a nice rhythm for learning. PJ seems to know what he needs to do, and when his meetings are. I wish I had his ability to retain all the information. PJ has been willing to tutor ME in math so I can help his younger siblings. Yes, I am reminded of the show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader”. My answer is NO. I didn’t bank all the information they are learning and building on. I have a graduate degree, yet can’t always figure out the answers they are looking for.
This weekend was suppose to be my daughters First Communion. It is a reminder that everyone is missing big events and have had birthdays spent alone. I was thinking about our seniors. As a parent I know it must tug at heart strings. This morning I happened to be watching a TikTok (yes, I admitted to it), and saw a senior’s post. It scrolled through pictures of seniors in 1917, 1940, 1969 all soldiers fighting a war. Phil, who deployed on 3 combat tours while on active duty with the Army, keeps reminding our family that “this may suck, but you REALLY don’t know what SUCK means, we’re not getting shot at.”
Here is a gentle reminder that next week is still Mother’s Day. Please don’t use the quarantine as an excuse not to make your maternal figure in your life feel special. A tighter and longer hug than normal might do the trick, doing something she has asked you to do SO many times and you haven’t done it yet would be great too.
We are all trying to settle into our new normal. PJ seems to be taking school in stride. There is some annoyance at chasing down information, but everyone is still getting into a groove. As a hands off mom, for his learning, I won’t know how this is really going until grades are posted. I did however learn that STA has taught him how to find resources to aid his teaching and help his understanding. Thank you Mr. Smith for giving him the tools to help me figure out 7th grade Algebra with my daughter!
What are our biggest challenges? I think it’s keeping our mindset in a positive direction. This will be the big event in our lives that we remember forever. Never have I had such an intense immersive time with my whole immediate family. The last time we had TIME together and weren’t pulled in many directions was when Phil returned from Iraq in 2008. That was a different challenging time in our nation and economy. As much as sometimes we can all get on each others nerves, it is AMAZING!
Coach O’Brian told the boys you can only control your attitude and effort. That challenge should be in the forefront of their minds. How are they going to choose to rise from this experience? If we put in the effort to be kind and positive we can all be trapped together in harmony.
Now please boys, take this time to bring the dishes down from your room. Do not dare leave them in the sink for someone else to put in the dishwasher. While you are in the kitchen take a moment to just tell your parents you love them and give them a hug. That might carry everyone forward in a positive way for another week.
In the photo below, PJ was creating science experiments in our bog.
I’ll admit, this short week was a welcome break. Everyone felt like they needed a minute to catch their breath and regroup before tackling classes again. With a few days to reflect and create a personal plan, I think going forward it will become more streamlined. This is new for everyone and it takes time to settle in.
The nice weather has given our kids a chance to be outside and explore nature. There are several small victories each week that I am choosing to focus on. Had this not happened, I’m not sure PJ would have taught Veronica how to throw a spiral. Siblings are forced to lean on each other for support and entertainment. Sometimes the common bond that makes them team up is a frustration with us parents. I’ll take it.
Now all the magic and decent weather has created a disaster inside my house. My children have no desire to live in a clean environment. I can’t keep up with the mess of 6 kids. I’d love to believe I’ll catch up this week in the cold weather, but I won’t. I’m learning to let a lot of things go and remember this is a short time in all our lives.
As we celebrate Easter, we will remember our world will resurrect stronger together. This is a small sacrifice to stay in our homes and limit shopping to well planned out grocery runs. What a perfect time to realize that our lives have impact to others. We may not see how our movements are like the butterfly effect, but now we might be more sensitive to that possibility.
Well, spring turkey season has opened in MN. PJ has a tag so he has found his motivation. In order to go out and hunt, he has to have his studies complete. To my knowledge, he is yet to have a meeting in full camo face paint.
This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the national launch of Les Mills training online. It was the touch of normalcy we all needed. No one knew how the change in format would change the experience. It’s a fitness certification class that is challenging. After we wrapped our full weekend training we debriefed to share how the online virtual training was different than a live training together at a gym. Unanimously, we agreed that we learned more and were pushed even harder. Our cameras were used to refine technique and we all learned from each other. In a class that human contact and connections are such a huge component, it became unnecessary. It pushed us harder as instructors since we only had our voice to change movements and drive intensity.
Often times over the weekend I thought of our kids. The teachers are being pushed to be different and amazing. They are stepping up to change how they teach. In a classroom they can see our boys and make connections. Now, they still need to be their amazing selves in a different climate and situation they may not be comfortable in.
Our boys are learning a bunch of lessons that usually wouldn’t start until college. They need to show up for classes, get the assignments done, reach out for help if they need it, and manage their time. Often times in college we learn a lot about ourselves from the people we live with in the dorm. Now, our house is the dorm. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you do have to learn how to be civil to everyone. At college we don’t always get to eat what we want but we make do with what’s around. Now, we don’t run to the store to fetch our kids favorite item and they still manage to make a mess in the kitchen so they found something to eat.
Well, this week I had the flip side experience. My national training this week gave me a new appreciation for the kids who are struggling. Last week was amazing and this week was a huge struggle. This class was not in my wheelhouse so it gave me an extra challenge. It was overwhelming, confusing and utterly frustrating. I find myself dragging my feet submitting the work needed to get the certification. I know if I was in a normal situation I would have been fine and been able to grasp everything being shared. Online I find myself going into my own head and tangling what is being taught. I can only imagine how kids are looking at textbooks or online teaching and getting frustrated and confused. In a classroom their blank look would be addressed or they could find that teacher during flex. Let’s keep at it and be brave enough to keep pushing forward. Let’s find the resources to help our kids in this time.
I’d be a complete fake if I didn’t admit to hitting a wall on Thursday. Why was/is that my trigger day? I think it’s because I’m so over doing school with the kids and need a break from dishes, laundry, cooking and any other demands Covid has placed on me. We need to allow ourselves to acknowledge the changes in our lives to be able move forward in a positive direction. I’m deciding to keep a grasp on the PMA (positive mental attitude) and hope it translates in my words and actions.
To be honest the first week of distance learning was a blur. As a mom of three high schoolers, my Cadet was the only one who was “back to school” last week. We spent the week creating work/school zones and determining how our family of 5 was going to function. Now that we are well into week two, my husband and all 3 kids are establishing their new normal while I try to keep up with the meal requests and the emotional swings we are all experiencing.
As a mom, I alternate between savoring the season and barely surviving. When I am savoring, I think about how our family has not played board games or worked puzzles together in years and now we do it regularly. When I am trying to survive, I make a mental list of spots to hide in the house so I can collect my thoughts and not say something I will regret.
I never imagined a world where I would have all 3 teenagers (15,16,18), a dog and a husband at home with me full time! While they are all learning and growing, I am still trying to figure out my new role as well. I am thrilled and equally embarrassed that we have had more family meals together in the past 18 days than we have had in years. I am worried that my senior daughter will miss so many exciting milestone celebrations this Spring. I am thrilled the kids are bonding and becoming more than siblings., they are becoming better friends. I am worried that my parents (and our teens) will relax their distancing efforts and get sick.
As the second week of online learning comes to end our family is still adjusting. We have missed a lot but we have gained a lot.
Week 3 for the kids and my husband was just another week in quarantine. Everyone went to their respected area in the house and got to work. It was business as usual as they settled into another week of their new normal.
Week 3 for me, as a mom, was a bit more iffy.
Here’s the good:
The lockdown forced my creativity into overdrive to make a fun, memorable Easter celebration. Plus it gave me time to really think about what matters most. My 3 teenagers enjoyed and savored Easter baskets, scavenger hunts and egg hunting more than they have in years. We didn’t worry with fancy outfits, sports schedules or reservations. Instead we live-streamed in pjs and sat around all afternoon just talking and eating candy!
Here’s the bad:
Our water heater gave out, drains were clogged, electrical issues, water damage and more. Just like the internet our 1933 house has been stretched to the max. 5 people in one house for 5 weeks is a lot to ask of any mechanical system.
Here’s the lesson:
My kids are absorbing it all and I try not to forget that they are listening and learning about what I value and where my hope comes from. I don’t have to be perfect for my kids, I just need to point them to the One who is!
I think this sums up last week :-)
40 days into isolation, my capacity to stay motivated and positive, is really limited. Even though we all knew it was coming, the finality of the Governors announcement on Thursday broke my heart for every student. I am sad for the 8th graders who were excited to finish out their middle school career. I am sad for my freshman who truly loved and looked forward to his school day. I am sad for me, as a mom, I was just starting to meet other moms and figure out how I can help. But mostly I am completely heartbroken for all the seniors who are missing so many fun traditions and experiences. My senior daughter held out hope for as long as she could but now we must all face the reality and determine how to end this year in the most positive way possible. I am not sure what the answer is but I thought I would share what a friend shared on Facebook recently:
I was a bit upset, initially, with J.K. Rowling because of the way that the Harry Potter book series robbed Harry, Hermione and Ron of their final terms as Hogwarts students. I felt like we had traveled this far together with them through the wizarding school, and it only seemed fair that we get to watch them work through their last level. Life had different plans for them though, and Rowling wrote the path that was true for her characters as much as it is now for students everywhere — especially high school seniors. What you are doing right now is helping the world stand up against a deadly enemy in order to protect countless lives. You are Harry Potter. You are Hermione Granger. You are Ron Weasley. You miss Hogwarts, and Hogwarts misses you. But your role here is crucial, and it will bless the paths of many lifetimes to come. Though many will still fall in this battle, you are doing your part to stave off an even greater global disaster. You are being true to your school in the most unexpected of ways, and you will graduate with the honor of having played a key part in this fight. Your work so far and chance for further accomplishments haven’t been dashed. A world of opportunity will await you when we get past this. Take heart and have hope. And remember the words of Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Joe Thomas - Southlake, TX
Okay, if I wanted to be an academic teacher I would have chosen that path in life. Thankfully, for STA I don’t need to pretend to know what my son is learning. PJ sat in an open community space, put his AirPods in and started working. I’d walk over to see his actual teachers lecturing. What a pleasant surprise to see class continuing as usual.
When the kids had the surprise bonus days, we took full advantage of the time and left for our road trip a few hours early. When we finally rolled into North Carolina the nation had changed. I ran to the store on Sunday only to find empty shelves and limited supplies of EVERYTHING. My creativity as a chef mom was pushed.
Tomorrow we start week two of online learning this time from home. I’m excited to spend such a long time with my family. My hope is that they remember family dinner and movie nights, not me yelling about dishes and laundry.
It has been a week of a lot of learning from each other at this house where we are definitely working on time management.
We try to not always be on the computer but to take time off to play a game as a family. The transition is tough but I'm adapting. Specifically, I used to go to the gym almost every day but now my basement has a bike on a trainer and I'm using dvd work outs. Something that my friends and I are doing weekly is HH (happy hour) through Zoom, which has been super fun! We share girls talk, and it is very refreshing for me to have that!
Our new normal during the Stay at Home order has been filled with frenzy and wonder.
Kevin Murphy '21 is one of 4 siblings who is distance learning; four siblings accustomed to traditional learning in Catholic schools.
Kevin takes online Latin through the Academy. He had confidence at the start of distance learning, because he has had a positive experience with the Academy's online Latin program. One week into distance learning, and Kevin is comfortable with the new format across all classes. However, Kevin misses the structure of the Academy, his Track team, and daily social interaction.
Arguably, no house is large enough to accommodate 4-spirited Irish kids. Kevin's reprieve has been to join his parents at their office. It's quiet there, because his parents tax clients are mailing-in all tax documents; no in-person appointments are scheduled this month.
One of the discoveries during this time, is the amount of teaching and mentoring Kevin and his older sister are doing with their younger siblings. It's wonderful they have each other! They are helping each other academically, they laugh together, cook together, and most importantly they pray. Each day our family prays a decade of the rosary along with members of the Lumen Christi Catholic Community.
Picture: Kevin is shown submitting his Honors Chemistry test to Mr. Wynia.
In the News
Innovation Center Director Mark Westlake has been making face shields for health care workers. Westlake is using the Innovation Center 3D printers, laser cutter and other equipment to make these much needed shields. The story has aired locally on WCCO-TV, Fox9 News and KSTP. This past weekend, the story aired nationally on Good Morning America. You can see the story by journalist Devin Dwyer '01 here!
Mr. Maddaus' Cadet Vision class had an assignment to make an obstacle course video but try to be creative to make it stand out. Below is a video from Tristan Thilmany '21, who definitely made his stand out with messaging.
Mrs. Clausen's Home Science Labs!
Leo Vincelli recruited help to set up his track for the lab
Peter Olson hopping through his lab!
Quang Nguyen Recording his Lab Data