Holy Cross High School officially opened its doors for the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Each class participated in student orientation for the first few days. Full classes began on Thursday, September 10th.
"This reopening is the product of much work and marries the best aspects of our Holy Cross education with the health and safety demands of COVID 19," said Dr. Thomas C. Pellegrino. "Holy Cross's mission has always been a balance of providing our students with the tools they need to meet the challenges of today's world while also imbuing them with a sense of hope. We are living that balance right now and the successful reopening only confirms the relevance and importance of our Mission."
The COVID-19 friendly Holy Cross experience commenced when the students arrived on campus. Each grade had its own entrance and exit into the building. Temperatures were taken at each location. Face masks were mandatory at all times in the building. Once inside, students became accustomed with the new traffic flows in the hallways.
"Our educational structures are rooted in our typical school procedures with changes that will ensure all of our students, faculty, and staff can return back to campus safely," said Principal Tommy Pompei. "We will maintain our eight period, rotating schedule, but, in order to incorporate all safety and health protocols, we are immersed in a blended learning model."
On-campus instruction days for students are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Although students are not on campus on Wednesdays, they will meet remotely for mandatory advisory meetings, club/co-curricular meetings and community service opportunities in accordance with all safety protocols.
The academic experience and daily schedule balances thoughtful pedagogy and creativity with a well-paced mode of learning. Each day consists of four eighty minute class blocks. Each class grade was split into two smaller groups. For the first forty minutes, one half of the class received face-to-face classroom time with teachers while the other half participated in an accompanying period of digital learning driven by Canvas in a Digital Learning Cohort area. At the end of the forty minutes, the groups switched.
"This thoughtful design ensures that each student has ample face to face time with the teachers," said Mr. Pompei. "Should there be a need to return to remote learning for any period of the year, we feel strongly that this current instructional format allows us to seamlessly transition both in and out of that platform. The usage of everyday virtual instruction over Zoom, combined with corresponding Canvas classroom work in the schedule, would mirror the student learning experience from afar."
"We are so thankful that we can be back and continue in class learning," said Giuseppe Mongelluzzo '21. "The teachers and the students missed face-to-face learning. It is great to be back in class with my friends. It's weird that we can't see each other's faces though."
The meticulous planning evidenced in the Daily Schedule carried over to the cleaning and sanitation of the building. Hand sanitizers and wipes were made available for usage in every classroom and common area. In between classes, desks, doorknobs and light switches were wiped down. Each evening, a cleaning service cleaned the building. Deep cleans take place on Wednesdays.
"Our family is so happy to see Holy Cross High School reopened and doing what it does best," said Grace Linhard, mother to Tanner '21 and Teaghan '23. "It is imperative that our children be in an environment that is safe and supportive. I couldn't be more pleased with what the Holy Cross team has done to welcome back our children."
One more element was added to the mix just as the school was ready to open its doors. Over thirty Chase Collegiate students enrolled at Holy Cross High School in late August. "We are so excited to welcome the Highlander students and parents into the Crusader family," said Terri Ann Parks, Director of Enrollment Management. "We are grateful that we are able to give these students a new home and humbled that they felt Holy Cross High School would be a good fit for them."
"Holy Cross has been so accommodating to the Chase families," said Jason Calabrese '89, father to Colby '21 and Chase '24. "The administration and the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and to do all they can to make the transition as painless as possible."
"Our mission is probably more relevant now than ever before," said Dr. Pellegrino. "The challenges we all face are not insignificant. But, they also provide the seeds of growth and improvement. We will succeed in this current climate by working together, supporting each other, and remembering who we are at our core. We are Holy Cross."