BY JILL WHALEN
Tamaqua Area High School teachers serenade their students in a YouTube video that has logged thousands of hits since it was posted last week.
“The goal was to show our students that we are still thinking of them even though we are closed,” explained high school Principal Thomas McCabe.
The school is also offering daily online quizzes and activities to keep students engaged, he said.
As for the video, 32 members of the high school’s faculty and administration take turns singing the school’s alma mater.
McCabe, wearing a district cap and shirt, appears first.
“Students? Do you guys ever wonder what faculty and administration does in their free time?,” he asks. “We still think of ways to amuse you.”
McCabe sings the first words of the alma mater, and is followed by short clips of others finishing the song.
“A group of club advisers and high school administration were searching for ways to stay connected with students during the time we have been closed” and the idea for the video was born, McCabe explained.
Caitlin Miller, the district’s speech language pathologist and Raiders STEP-UP adviser, put the video together.
“The student feedback that I have received so far was touching,” she said. “Most students were able to have a good laugh and some students cried. I think people are mostly relieved to have a mental distraction from the news and the drastic changes to our lives. We certainly weren’t trying to win an award for our musical talents, but I think most people understand that it was a gesture to let our students know that we care, deeply.”
STEP-UP is a high school club that provides free pro-social activities to students as part of the district’s drug prevention and mental health initiative. The club has about 150 members and Miller said it’s completed a number of creative projects under McCabe’s direction.
In addition to the YouTube video, McCabe asked STEP-UP officers to devise other ways to stay engaged with students.
“The top suggestion was to have a daily Kahoot! challenge occur so that students and faculty could compete to earn a top spot on a daily trivia quiz,” Millerr said. “Additionally, students were challenged to do things like post a picture with their pets, complete a fitness challenge, shoot a basket, and try something they have never done before. The idea is to tag Raiders STEP Up and use #TAHSConnects so that people can feel less isolated.”
Miller noted that there are similar positive challenges on social media.
“I think that is wonderful because one of the greatest risk factors for mental health and substance use is feeling isolated and hopeless,” she said. “As a society, we need to make sure people can connect virtually while distancing physically to avoid negative consequences beyond contracting the coronavirus.”
McCabe said he is proud of the work teachers and administrators have done.
“Our education and care for the students of Tamaqua High School go beyond a classroom. I hope the students enjoyed it and know that we are here for them if they need anything,” he said.
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