“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar." Damian Barr, award-winning writer, columnist & broadcaster

COVID-19 has VIRTUALLY changed the face of education.

In just a matter of weeks, many had been obliged to make an almost overnight pivot.

Education reimagined.

While some colleges and universities have long been using both synchronous [same time] and asynchronous [NOT same time] online teaching, most school districts were not in that same position.

As it was also quite sudden and unexpected that the pandemic would close districts, many educational administrators were left scrambling in search of software and adequate online tools to be able to continue to educate their students.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela [1918-2013]

The faculty and administrators have been navigating their routes with respect, empathy and responsibility. In this unprecedented time, safety concerns and social distancing impact the way education can continue. In an abundance of caution, the Bristol Borough School Board decided that students would begin full remote instruction beginning November 23, 2020, with the plan to discuss returning to a hybrid model on December 7, 2020.

Some students have admitted that they were at first initially excited about the idea of virtual education. Now they miss their friends, and are actually missing face-to-face instruction.

Kristin Loffreda-Mancinelli teaches Italian and World Events at Bristol High. She originally started teaching in the BBSD almost ten years ago when she learned that Italian was to be included in the curriculum.

Currently, she is also the moderator of the quite powerful Student Council as well as the Italian Club.

She and the dedicated teachers exude positive energy and a tenacious and strong work ethic, keeping the students on task, as involved as possible, challenged and learning.

“Bristol High is a small school with a strong Student Council. They have continued to celebrate every holiday and prepare for “spirit days” even though many students are virtual,” explained Kristin.

The Student Council is still hosting themed “spirit weeks” at least 4 times a year.

In the past, they hosted pep rallies, provided fun, high end entertainment for assemblies, and coordinated fund raisers such as car washes and handbag bingo, as well as attending every football game and most basketball games.

The dedicated teachers whole heartedly continue to touch so many lives with their strength and power and inordinate attention to detail. The BHS Mascot: Warriors!

Remote teachers work diligently to build class culture and routines with students they may never get to meet in person. Teachers in the school buildings tirelessly work to figure out how to adapt instruction that is shaped and constrained by the current physical environment requisites.

The Academic Oversight Committee [AOC] led by the most positive driving force of Amy McIlvaine and its partners support this year-round healthy, safe, engaged and supportive learning environment.

A selected group was recently honored by the AOC for their above and beyond energy and compassion.

Congratulations to these 2020 Teachers of the Year who exemplify excellence in their profession:

Lynn Ciotti, Snyder-Girotti Elementary School, Jeanine McGee, St. Mark Parochial School, and the late Rosie Parmigiani, Bristol Borough School District [posthumously awarded] were all recognized online.

The 2020 Student of the Year is Bristol High School Senior, Maria Bernadette Evardone.

Last year, the educators selected as Teachers of the Year by their professional peers: Bristol Borough teachers Dawn DeLuca of Warren Snyder-John Girotti Elementary School, Robert Moyer of Bristol Middle School, Heather Quattrocchi of Bristol High School, and Ms. Kathy Chapman of St. Mark School. They were recognized in person at the 2019 Bristol Fall Classic last November. Bristol Borough High School student Jacob Frey was recognized as the Student of the Year.

BBSD teachers on the frontline have been exploring new ways to face novel challenges, providing cognitively demanding work. Current challenges accepted!

“It’s about listening - REALLY listening - to what we’re saying,” has been voiced by many students.

Let’s hear it from some student council member kids!

“I'm a warrior…. I'm stronger than I've ever been…” - Lyrics from song by Demi Lovato

Ann Marie Knox, BHS ’21 stated, “I am a very good student. I am kind to others and I keep my grades up.” She is a distinguished honors student and her favorite subject is English 12A Honors.

“I like to write life stories and do the research.”

Ann’s high school sports included bowling and cheerleading.

Another one of her favorite courses is "Advancement Via Individual Determination" [AVID], an academic elective course that prepares students for college readiness and success.

Her current interest is to pursue Child Psychology. “I like working with little kids. I was once too scared to even talk to people, so I want to help,” she confirmed.

Well, Mount St. Mary in NY is her first choice! The campus overlooks the Hudson River, halfway between New York City and Albany and she loves the city.

Lycoming College, along with Temple and Millersville Universities are also on her radar. “My older sister, Katelyn, is a junior at Lycoming,” she shared.

Her favorite book is “The Great Gatsby” by [Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald] F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” last line of The Great Gatsby

Last year, she really liked to help setting up decorations for the dances!

“Bristol High is diverse. No one gets judged and there are a lot of kind people there. It’s easy making friends there and the teachers will always help you.”

Ann Marie has been a virtual student since school started.

“It is harder to enjoy school when it is online and it is harder for me to focus.”

Jaidyn Morales-Devine, BHS ’22 has served as an elected Student Council rep since her freshman year.

“There was no election this year but I submitted my request for an office as the class President or Vice President,” shared Jaidyn. “I like to think of myself as a leader. I always do the right thing and I guide people to do the right thing.”

She really enjoys being a part of the school events and getting other people involved.

Jaidyn has cheered for football and basketball games. “I have been a ‘flyer’ since I was little!”

She has also pitched and played center field for BHS softball and she competes with ‘Langhorne Lightening’, a travel softball team.

This Distinguished Student Award recipient, “I earn all 90’s and above!” hopes to be making her first trip to Europe with the International Club this spring. Jaidyn likes math, “especially algebra. I think math is fun, and I love art and human anatomy. I really care about my grades and I look up to my parents!”

Her mother teaches 5th graders at Carl Sandburg, and her father is a Neshaminy High School teacher.

She is also a member of the Service Learning Club and she writes motivational letters to the elderly.

Relationships with her teachers are important to her. “They really care about us and help us. I am looking forward to going back into school. I am more of a visual person, not a computer kid.”

Robert White, III, BHS ’21, an online student, is nicknamed “Hollywood”.

“I am just a virtual kid now. It’s hard for the teachers and hard for the students. Everything is just happening so fast. I am really into modeling and I plan to get a headshot and pursue modeling after school.” His father had aspired to be a model and his older sister, Sanai, has done some modeling.

Robert was the manager of the girls’ basketball team last year and a Student Council member who “enjoyed helping set up for dances. We got to decorate and do fun things.”

This honor roll student also enjoys math, “especially algebra and pre-calc but it is hard to learn subjects online.” He is currently juggling his school work and making money for his future modeling endeavors.

Robert has recently been working at TESCO - The Eastern Specialty Company located in the Grundy Commons building in the Borough for the last 6 months, packaging K'NEX Brand toys.

Yes, it is definitely an uncertain time.

Not being able to see friends in person, navigating high school courses remotely, and dealing with school sports and functions, and even senior year traditions of prom and graduation being postponed — and in some cases cancelled completely, have put many students in shock.

The teachers reach out often. They go the extra mile.

They are truly appreciated for acknowledging that this is a strange and uncertain time as they unselfishly listen to the students and talk them through their fears and concerns.

There is no better time than the present to be human, be transparent, be honest, and be kind.

“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way….” - Greatest Love of All lyrics, written by Michael Masser & the late Linda Creed

Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

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