I think that it is safe to say that not a single person could have predicted how 2020 went down.
For the first two months, everything seemed pretty normal, especially at Blessed Trinity. Students had just returned from Christmas break and were starting to pick up steam, headed for the finish line in late May. The only “disease” that seniors were concerned with was the infamous senioritis. However, as we all know, that all turned around very quickly.
On March 16, Blessed Trinity conducted their first virtual day as a response to Covid-19. Thanks to BT’s previous preparation for times like these, everything went as smoothly as they could have hoped for. Although there were bound to be technical issues when trying to hold school from hundreds of different households, BT was able to persevere and pick up right where they left off at physical school. The original plan was to be virtual-only through March 27, but, obviously, that had to be extended through the rest of the school year.
It seemed unlikely that students would be able to receive the same quality of learning experience that was provided during in-person school. However, teachers brainstormed, did research, and found ways, such as “breakout rooms” in Google Meet, to enhance the virtual learning experience.
In the Fall semester of the 2020-21 school year, students and their parents had the option of either doing school virtually or in-person. This presented a whole new challenge for teachers. How would the students who were online receive the same learning experience as the students in-person, including participation in class and interaction with classmates? Once again though, the teachers stepped up to the plate and crushed that problem out of the park.
Teachers used cameras to display the classroom so that virtual students could see everything that was going on, and if virtual students had any questions, all they had to do was unmute their microphones and ask away. If there were any technical problems, teachers just had to email Mr. Podhorez, and he would come down to the classroom himself and fix the problem. It was truly thanks to the teachers, Mr. Podhorez, and Ms. Lancaster’s leadership that BT was able to unite during such chaotic times. As some might say, the show must go on.
Someone who knows all too well about that line is Mrs. Bauersfeld, the Drama Director at BT. When I asked Mrs. Bauersfeld about the Fine Arts department and how it adjusted to the Covid-19 outbreak, she answered, “Since no one really knew what was happening, we canceled any type of live performance. I think we just had to use our creativity when it came to online learning and what opportunities we could offer to our students as far as doing everything virtually. I would say that by May, we had figured everything out, we knew how to provide a better experience than just sitting behind a screen.”
From an acting standpoint, having to go virtual was not the end of the world. They were still able to do scene work and do “table talk”, which is where each student analyzes their character. Considering they had no physical interaction, they were able to improvise almost flawlessly, pun intended.
Mrs. Bauersfeld did admit that from a musical aspect, it was much more challenging to recreate the experience that they had in-person. As for the fall semester, the Fine Arts department has followed all the school guidelines and taken all precautionary measures necessary to optimize their part-virtual and part-physical classes and extracurricular activities.
Mrs. Bauersfeld is proud of how the entire department has handled these unprecedented times. She told me that the main thing that has stayed the same through the pandemic is that, “art is still being created. And we are creating art in sometimes an even more exciting way because we are forced to. So, students may not necessarily be putting on giant, full, 200-300 person audience shows, but they are working on technique, they are creating, and they are building community at a time where we really need it the most.”
They were even able to put on a show in October titled “A Night of Laughter under the Stars.” All in all, Mrs. Bauersfeld and all the faculty involved in Fine Arts have worked tirelessly to ensure that their students are able to have the full experience that they signed up for.
This pandemic has no doubt been a trying time for everybody. It has caused pain, loneliness, separation, and so much more. However, it has also given us the opportunity to lean on each other and rise above all of the negativity surrounding the situation. The Blessed Trinity community has only been strengthened by this pandemic, and we now know that we will be prepared for whatever the world throws at us.
Psalms 46 tells us that in the end, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”