The true test we have faced since March 2020 is answering the question: How do we keep learning vibrant during the time of COVID? The answer may be found in our radical reimaginings of the traditions and lessons we look forward to each year. Teachers have taken their classes outside in order to utilize our state-of-the-art outdoor learning areas. Classes took walks to the Hudson to go whale-spotting, and field trips to local outdoor eateries to learn about the restaurant business. Presentations were turned into artful video compilations. Check out some examples of the vibrant learning experience that students at St. Luke's continue to enjoy, in-person and remote, during the time of COVID-19.
In spring 2020, our then-Grade 5 students began rehearsing Once Upon a Mattress, that classic musical about a dynamic princess and a persistent pea. They had learned lines and songs when COVID-19 shut us down. They continued to practice at home as co-directors Debby Irwin and Tod Mason, musical director Ron Nahass, and choreographer Courtney Runft re-envisioned the entire production. Last spring students had their parents tape their parts of the now pared-down play. Over the summer, our arts team spent countless hours editing, producing two videos featuring our now sixth graders emoting, singing, and dancing.
Our Grade 3 students presented their annual “Origin Stories” last fall – a culmination of their study of the history and culture of indigenous peoples. Due to COVID-19, it was virtual for the first time ever, but the presentation had a real impact on all who saw it. They began by giving thanks to the Lenape tribe, on whose land St. Luke’s School resides. As is tradition, the ceremony ended with a class performance of the Eagle Dance. As we watched the students awaken to their potential and spread their wings and fly, much as an eagle awakens to and ultimately claims its strength, we were reminded that there are deep values and aspirations in our community that transcend the difficulties of these moments. The work that students and teachers invested in this performance made its outcome even more powerful.
Last year's Lessons and Carols was different in many ways than most years. We all joined from home. Many of the performances and lessons were recorded ahead of time. There were mash-ups and video compilations, almost 500 different homes dropped their "grateful" in the chat box, and there was an uproarious unmuting at the end of the service. But in the most important ways, Lessons and Carols was the same as it always is. The spirit, effort, and sense of community came through just as strongly as in years past, if not stronger. It was an affirmation of all we hold dear and a confirmation of the power of our values and hopes for our children. The service was made possible through the endless creativity of our professional staff, parent community, and children.
Our students have learned to be supportive in pods and always remain enthusiastic. An amazing feat.Joe Wood
Dean of Student Life
Though we've always known this, this year has made it clearer than ever that our students' outstanding energy and engagement in the classroom is key to a dynamic educational experience.
Upper School Social Studies Teacher
I appreciate that our species is learning to use technology in ways that keep us connected. Even in music. Knowing there are people who are singing or playing along still builds a bridge.Ron Nahass