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Distance Doesn’t Stop Student Celebrations at Peak and Research Triangle

Distance has not stopped schools from finding innovative ways to continue celebrating their students, even though they aren’t able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Peak Charter Academy and Research Triangle Charter Academy got creative and ensured they were able to celebrate the talents and successes of their students virtually. These unprecedented times didn’t stop Peak from hosting their very own talent show.

Sarah Harrison, visual arts teacher at Peak, put together the virtual art show portion of the talent show. There were 63 students and two teachers who submitted artwork, and 76 total pieces of artwork displayed.

Since Peak typically does a quarterly Fine Arts Night to display artwork and showcase musical skills that are practiced throughout each nine weeks of school, this was a great alternative way to keep students involved and connected while they can’t physically be together. “Our students are always very proud to show off their musical and artistic talents with their families and peers on our quarterly Fine Arts Nights, so we wanted to make sure all students had a platform to display what they had been working on at home,” shared Harrison.

There were no winners for either the musical or artistic portion of the talent show, as they wanted to ensure each student was celebrated equally! Harrison shared that they loved seeing that students are still engaging in the arts while physically out of school.

Shana Barr, music teacher at Peak, also played a key role in hosting the virtual talent show. “We have a supportive and very diverse community that loves to celebrate the anything and everything to do with being a Peak Pirate. Our talent show was a wonderful way to share the diversity of cultures that make up our school family.”

In addition to all the musical and artistic talent, Peak scholars submitted themselves juggling, jumping on pogo sticks, and performing monologues, magic tricks, and Tae Kwon Do.

For example, Srushti Meher, fourth-grade student, performed a dance from India, Quest Allen, second-grade student, and his dad, performed “Light It Up," and the Del Bianco family, who calls their family band "The Daybreakers", performed "Livin' On A Prayer." The band consists of Jacob Del Bianco, fourth-grade student, Michael Del Bianco, fifth-grade student, and Nicole Del Bianco, seventh-grade student.

“In a time of uncertainty and anxiety, I loved seeing our students happy and having fun with their families,” explained Barr. “I especially loved seeing all the various cultural dances and music. Our Peak families come from all over the globe, and the talent show was a fantastic way to learn about the many diverse cultures.”

Steve Pond, principal at Peak, couldn’t be prouder. “From my perspective, we strive to be a community-first school and this project really helped keep our scholars and families connected. The talent show is a showcase of who our Peak Pirates are and the great talents they have,” said Pond.

The video portion of the talent show is comprised of over three hours of submissions, as they did not limit the number of submissions. Students were able to share their artwork, singing, dancing, and family talents. In one week, the video portion has been viewed over 8,000 times, with families engaged for over 210 hours.

Peak isn’t the only school getting creative with how they are celebrating students. Teachers at Research Triangle Charter Academy (RTCA) are passionate about highlighting their students even in the midst of Covid-19.

The kindergarten through second-grade teachers held virtual awards ceremony to recognize scholars, as well as to connect with their homeroom teachers.

This is Vannessa Glesias’ first year as a teacher and her first year at RTCA and just when she started getting the hang of teaching on my own, she was thrown the curveball of remote learning. In having to navigate the remote learning space, she’s been creative and hosted a virtual awards ceremony to celebrate her students.

“With teaching kindergarten my kids love being recognized, and it makes them feel proud of the work they're doing,” shared Glesias. “Although we may be remote learning, I know my scholars are working hard and I want to make sure they get recognized for their hard efforts.”

Glesias held her Q3 Honor Roll celebration on YouTube for her students and families to see!

Glesias reflected on how remote learning has helped her improve as an educator, “I have become more tech savvy and I've actually gotten a lot closer with the parents in my classroom which I really do love. At the end of the day, I've learned a lot from remote learning and there are definitely things I can bring back to the classroom this fall.”

Christine Poole, who has been teaching at RTCA for 11 years, also worked to engage and celebrate students virtually, “It is important to celebrate scholars because it builds up their self-worth from the inside out. Celebrations create a since of good pride in a scholar’s education and when you know someone cares, it makes you strive to do your best. This results in a scholar learning to take ownership in their education.” 

Families have shared how the award ceremonies positively impacted their child, one parent said, “My student stopped everything when she heard your sweet voice on the phone,” and another sharing, “My student had the biggest smile on his face when he saw you. Thank you!”

Through navigating remote learning, Poole has had to teach more outside of the box and comfort zone. “Knowing how my scholars loved seeing my face through this school shut down made my heart happy.” Her families and students know that their teacher is concerned and cares for them even in the midst of crisis.  

Artists of Peak art photos:

Galaxy collage, Jordan Dennison, first grade.

Ballerina drawing, Jocelyn Nandha, third grade.

Cardinal painting, Lexi Richardson, eighth grade.