ROCHESTER - As St. Elizabeth Seton School prepares to finish the 2019-2020 school year, staff and students never thought it would be from their homes and having not seen each other for 12 weeks by the time the last day of school arrives on June 5.
Suzanne Boutin, principal of the private Catholic school, said although it is not how they envisioned the school year ending, the school community is still as strong as ever.
"Our staff did not miss a beat when the news broke that we would be teaching remotely," she said. "We pulled together, used our resources and only missed a couple days of instruction while we transitioned to online learning."
Streamlined communication with the parents has been key in keeping things running smoothly and keeping everyone on the same page, and each teacher has done a remarkable job with keeping their online classes scheduled and assignments fresh and new.
There have been plenty of new adventures like virtual field trips, online art and PE classes, and the novelty of quizzes and tests being taken remotely. Story-times, educational movies and daily math and English lessons also happen as if they were in their traditional classrooms
"Providing students with 'live' teaching within our Google Classrooms has been a key to our success with remote instruction" explains Boutin. "After the first few days, we meet virtually as a staff and realized that many of our students were overwhelmed with the transition, but we knew it was important for them to see us and each other, so we decided not to cut back on the screen time, but to cut back a little on their assignments instead. This seemed to relieve both them and their parents."
St. Elizabeth Seton School is located on River Street in downtown Rochester. As of Monday, the tuition-based school has students from Rochester, Barrington, Farmington, Milton, Somersworth, Wakefield, Strafford and multiple towns in Maine. Boutin said the school has a strong curriculum in all subject areas as well as successful multi-age classrooms.
Potential families looking to enroll at the school should not only take note of the strong academic program that the school has maintained during the quarantine, but also how it hasn't dampened school spirit. The annual Rock-a-thon fund-raiser was recently held, virtually, where friends, families, and donors sponsored the staff; the 3rd Annual Crusader 5k Run/Walk has been changed to a Summer Kick-Off Virtual 5K event, slated for the weekend of June 6 and 7; and the 13th Annual SES Golf Tournament is also slated to happen on August 21 at Nippo Lake Golf Course.
"Although the school building is currently closed for classes, I am here to offer tours for families and register students for next year," and she added, laughing, "I will keep my distance of six feet and offer complimentary face masks if needed!"
More information about St. Elizabeth Seton School, virtual tours, tuition assistance programs, the enrollment process and the upcoming school events is all available on the school's social media pages and their website www.sesschool.org.
Marni Spewock is the Advancement/Development leader at St. Elizabeth Seton School, 16 Bridge St. Rochester NH