VALDOSTA – As the community settles into another week of school closures, one South Georgia school is continuing to gather together – virtually. 

St. John the Evangelist Catholic School transitioned to its distance learning program March 16, upon suspending activities at its physical location due to COVID-19, school officials said in a statement released this week. 

In addition to educating its pre-K3 through eighth-grade students, the school is focusing on connecting the entire Eagle family using live online meetings, online resources and social media.

“For us, one of the biggest priorities during this time, in addition to educational instruction, is to create opportunities for community engagement,” said Vito Pellitteri, SJCS principal. “We turn to technology to connect our families with live broadcasting events, virtual spirit weeks and online resources like Google Classroom and Google Meet. It’s important for teachers, parents and students to still be able to interact and bond with each other while being isolated.”

SJCS students connect with their teachers daily, through Google Meet and recorded videos which are accessible via the school’s website. Teachers and students connect, in real-time and are able to ask questions, receive direct instruction and see one another. For younger students, teachers use a blend of online materials, printed handouts and recorded lessons to further their instruction.

“I am so impressed with the way SJCS is handling online teaching and virtual instruction,” said Randy Gladwin, a school parent. “It has been a smooth transition, and the school’s leadership and teachers have been a crucial part of educating my children and keeping us together as an Eagle family.”

Social media is also playing a big role in staying connected during the closure at SJCS, school officials said. Pellitteri is embracing Facebook Live; using the social media platform to broadcast a recent seventh-grade student-led Stations of the Cross, deliver daily announcements and conduct weekly Mass for students. 

Photos and videos from parents and teachers continue to flood the school’s Facebook and Instagram pages, showing children interacting with their teachers, completing schoolwork and avoiding boredom, school officials said.

“Being an SJCS Eagle is more than coming to our school to learn,” Pellitteri said. “It’s about being a part of a community of teachers, parents and students, who support and encourage each other, laugh with each other and pray together. Even if we can’t do those things in person, we will always find a way to stay connected.” 

Micha Hogan with St. John Catholic School submitted this report.

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