Independent school leaders, communities and students have rapidly responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the crisis has created many challenges, it also has inspired acts of kindness, support and innovation. Below are some uplifting stories taken from around the country that help to bring hope during this uncertain time. If If you have an uplifting or innovative story you would like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Windward School White Plains, New York Day, Grades 1-12 938 students
One Windward School faculty member has found an innovative way to use her skills as well as Windward’s 3D printers to print masks for hospitals in need. Middle school science and social studies teacher Emily Frawley found a design for an N95-style mask that worked with the school’s printers. She put out a call on social media and received donations of the materials needed to make the mask, including medical-grade filter fabric. Now Frawley can print up to 12 masks a day.
“We can think to ourselves, ‘What skills do I have that could contribute to a solution, and what resources do I have around me that can help?’ and then tinker around with the ideas that pop into our heads,” Frawley said in a story on the school’s website. “Instead of convincing ourselves they’re too ambitious, or that they wouldn’t make an impact, we’d be shocked what we come up with.”
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Nichols School Buffalo, New York Day, Grades 5-12 584 students
The Nichols School robotics team has used the skills they learned in STEM lab to create face shields at home, and then send the design to one of the school’s 3D printers. The planning process began in early March as the physical campus closed and the potential impact in Western New York became more well-known. It takes four hours to make one face shield, according to the school. In addition, students are also sewing cloth face masks to be donated. The students coordinated the distribution of materials over the past week and began washing fabric and sewing.
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Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School Washington, DC Day, PS-8 445 students
Students at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School are sewing face masks for health care workers. The project started when one elementary school student enlisted the help of sewing teacher Antoinette Lee to choose patterns and materials. On March 27, with the support of more students, the school hosted an online group sewing session. The group, which now work on their own time, hopes to make 100 masks for health care workers and the local community.
More from Washington Jewish Week
Germantown Friends School Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Day, PS-12 1,017 students
The Germantown Friends School community has donated cloth face masks to a local health center. The goal is to help provide the local health center with enough reusable masks so that each patient can bring one home with them and keep the virus from spreading. As of May 13, GFS has donated 509 cloth masks — exceeding the health center’s expectations in just the first week.
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Northwood School Lake Placid, New York Day and boarding, Grades 9-12 175 students
One student at Northwood School donated over 5,000 tested and certified reusable 3-ply cloth masks to the Village of Lake Placid as part of her “Masks for All” campaign. The project was established to minimize the competition that has formed between medical facilities and non-medical facilities over the already limited supply of disposable surgical masks, by providing the public with high-quality reusable protective cloth masks. The student reached out to her extended family in Vietnam, who were making millions of cloth masks for people in Vietnam, Japan, and Singapore. The school has helped her identify potential organizations, businesses, municipalities, and schools in need of the masks, and managing logistics and distribution
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Black Pine Circle School Berkeley, California Day, K-8 325 students
When Black Pine Circle School closed its physical campus in early March, the school found itself with extra produce and its dining hall now empty. Black Pine Circle chef Joan Gallagher, whose company Nourish You serves two other independent schools in Berkeley, California, offered to take the raw vegetables and donate the prepared meals to the local the volunteer-run nonprofit food bank, which regularly feeds hundreds of under-resourced and disadvantaged people. Since then, with the support of donations from Black Pine Circle families, Gallagher has given away almost 40,000 meals. Assuming students go back to school in the fall, Gallagher is currently figuring out a cooking schedule that will allow her to serve both students and local communities in need.
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Lake Highland Preparatory School Orlando, Florida Day, PS-12 1950 students
In April, students at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando launched a free online tutoring service to help younger students with their schoolwork. The project was created by members of Lake Highland’s robotics club. The Orlando Student Tutoring is open to any student who is interested. Since then, the program has worked with about 50 students. Students from across Central Florida and even California and Pennsylvania have participated.
More from Orlando Sentinel and Lake Highland Preparatory School
Viewpoint School Calabasas, CA Day, K-12 1,210 students
In a historic night, Viewpoint School raised more the $500,000 for the Patriot Community Fund to help provide temporary need-based financial aid for families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The “Viewpoint at Home” fundraiser featured four live auction items, a silent auction, student performances, a tribute to our seniors, and shout-outs from current and alumni families. The event was hosted by head of school Mark McKee and comedian/actor and Viewpoint parent, Ken Jeong, and featured performances by fellow parents Stevie Wonder, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Fogerty.
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Gulliver Schools Miami, Florida Day, PS-12 2,178 students
With sporting events cancelled across the country, independent schools have had to consider a variety of athletics questions, from how sports may look in the fall to how they may honor student athletes whose seasons were disrupted. Gulliver Prep Athletic Director Ira Childress created a weekly virtual Zoom gathering for high school athletic directors around the country to discuss how they get work done and different plans and solutions. Gulliver Prep, for example, held a virtual awards ceremony and did senior days for their spring sports over Zoom video calls.
More from Miami Herald
Carlisle School Martinsville, Virginia Day and boarding, PS-12 380 students
Administrators at Carlisle School created a virtual event so that seven distinguished student athletes would not miss the experience of their college signing day. The student-athletes and their parents were invited to the Carlisle Campus, where a table and photo background were set up, and props were on hand to represent the teams and school colors of each college the students would attend. Due to social-distancing guidelines, friends, extended family, faculty members, and media partners all participated in the event via Zoom. The signing event was also spaced out throughout the afternoon so that school staff could sanitize the signing room in between parties arriving.
“The signing event could have easily taken place at the dining room table of each student’s home, but we wanted to allow them to come back to campus and specifically the Upper School building to celebrate this occasion,” said athletics director Melinda Brightwell in a statement.
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Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School Las Vegas, Nevada Day, Grades 6-12 1,910 students
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the site for Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School’s graduation ceremony. Over 3,000 attendees spread out over the raceway, where students received their diplomas, along with a checkered flag, keepsake mask with Faith Lutheran’s logo on it and a graduation program. Graduates then took an approximately mile-long “victory lap” around the racetrack. They heard a graduation address — as well as remarks from the class valedictorian — via their car radios using the speedway’s low-power FM transmitter. Faith Lutheran CEO Stever Buuck said that after all the things the high school seniors missed out on this year, he hopes the graduation will be a “unique, memorable experience” they won’t forget.
More at Las Vegas Review-Journal
Canterbury School Fort Wayne, Indiana Day, PS-12 905 students
Canterbury School found a creative way to recognize the class of 2020 while many students by running ads on three digital billboards recognizing the senior class. “We want to show our seniors that they are incredibly important to us and that “we see them, we see their hurt, we see their hope, and we see all they have accomplished even though we can’t see them in person,” said Amber Lavender, director of marketing and communication at Canterbury.
More at Love the Bug Blog
Kingswood Oxford School West Hartford, Connecticut Day, grades 6-12 510 students
Last month, Kingswood Oxford seniors drove through campus, where they were greeted by chalk drawings of each of their names around the circle entrance, chalked messages and a group of faculty, staff and the school mascot, Koko, who presented them with a box of pastries and a cup of hot chocolate. Two other senior traditions, the signing of the senior rock and the burning of their initials into class plaque were accomplished through staggered times, social distancing measures, face masks and gloves.
More from we-ha and Kingswood Oxford School’s Facebook page
Calvary Christian Academy Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Day, PS-12 1960 students
Calvary Christian Academy held an outdoor “drive-in” graduation for the 151 graduating seniors and their closest family members and friends. To hear and see the program, they tuned into an FM frequency on their car radios and turned their heads toward the giant screens on each side of the stage. The seniors walked across an outdoor stage to have their moment of recognition while maintaining social distancing. The formal ceremony was followed by a car parade recessional, during which graduates and guests exited the school’s property honking the horns of their decorated vehicles.
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