After shifting to remote learning in March, Benet Academy had to get creative both with teaching and celebrating the Class of 2020.
“Learning Still Matters”
“We told students that learning still matters even in an e-learning environment,” said Assistant Principal Bill Myers. “And so while this might sound kind of negative, it’s possible their grade could have gone down. But what we actually found out was that didn’t happen. Students met the challenge and grades actually went up slightly. I think that was a positive sign that our students and parents valued all the good work our faculty was doing.”
The teachers also had to find new ways to connect with students.
“Maybe most effectively I learned how to do screencasting, which I had never done before but it ended up being really easy and a really effective way to teach quick lessons that students could watch on their own time and rewatch if they had to,” said English teacher Elizabeth Bolland.
“At the end of the week, we’d do an optional Zoom in which the students could gather together with me and have a book club. And over the course of this, probably 40-50 students over the three weeks hopped in on Zoom,” said religion teacher Mike Kazlauskas.
Outside the Classroom
But their hard work wasn’t just seen in the classroom. Benet students organized PPE and snack donations for hospitals, sewed face coverings, and sold t-shirts to raise money to build homes in Guatemala.
“They did not focus on their own troubles, their own challenges,” said Myers. “They looked outward and how to help people.”
Celebrating Benet Seniors
To reward four years of hard work and service, Benet has done its best to give this senior class a proper send-off.
They’ve put together tribute videos and organized a drive-in movie night where a video of their teachers was projected onto the side of the building.
But they’re also still hoping to maintain some traditions.
“We asked our kids what is one thing that you really miss or that you want to do,” said Steve Frey, and English teacher and moderator for Student Government. “And it’s just one of those funny things where they’re like ‘we want one more day in school, going to our classes, in our uniforms.’ So we’re trying to plan a day where they can come back and go through like a half period schedule, see all their classmates, their teachers. And then we’re going to have a barbecue and just hang out afterwards.”
No other graduating class will have an experience quite like 2020. It’s not what most of them hoped for, but they did their best to make it theirs.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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