Students from the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Online High School Leadership Class presented to division administrators the different ways they have developed and approached student connection and well-being over the year during a board meeting on April 7.
Their presentation touched on the ways the class tried to cultivate a unique school culture in an online environment through a positive social media routine, online student events, a mentorship program between RVS Elementary/Middle Online School and high school students, and helping with the school’s Wellness Summit.
“Some students who started online didn’t feel connected to their peers,” Grade 12 student Heather Beckett said during the presentation.
“For me, it was very difficult to go from in-person public to online school, so it was very nice to be able to create a community and have friends. At the beginning, I didn’t have a friends at this school.
Through the leadership program, students felt they could better connect with their peers and create an atmosphere where they could get to know each other despite online barriers.
Schools participated in a Terry Fox Run, held a virtual Halloween pumpkin carving and costume contest, held a live Remembrance Day ceremony in November, and celebrated Christmas, Valentine’s Day and pink sweater.
“With an online high school, it’s hard to know how things are going and whether students are engaged,” said Ward 1 (Chestermere) administrator Shali Baziuk. “It’s more important than ever to have a leadership program to make sure everyone feels welcome and belongs.”
Ward 5 (Western Rocky View County) administrator Judi Hunter said the online schooling experience has been a learning curve for everyone.
“Just as you were learning to navigate your way through this online school, so were we as a board,” she told the presenters.
Leadership students reported that they were overall satisfied with how the course of the year has gone so far. They said they felt online school gave them more opportunities to explore their independence through synchronous and asynchronous learning.
They noted, however, that there should be more built-in sanity checks for students learning in the online sphere, as some may feel more isolated than in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting.
They also said they felt that the RVS Online Secondary School and the Combined Online Primary/Middle School lacked identity due to their temporary first names, which made it difficult for students to feel part of it. school culture.
The board was pleased to announce that part of their meeting agenda included adopting names for the two online schools, and two committees were formed to help with naming the schools.
For the elementary/middle school, which has 440 students, more than 40 suggestions were submitted by a committee made up of school staff, students, parents and a school board representative.
The committee narrowed down the suggestions to five options to which Ward 4 (North Rocky View County) administrator Norma Lang, who served on the committee, came up with the name Discovery Trails Online School.
The Board of Directors unanimously accepted the change, which takes effect immediately.
The online secondary school, which has about 200 online students, was represented by Baziuk on the nominating committee, along with a parent and three students.
The committee suggested the names Rocky View Mountain Virtual Education, Rocky View Schools Online High School, and Alberta Virtual Education.
After careful consideration, the Board Planning Committee finally recommended Summit Online.
Lang added that the high school should be named in synergy with the online elementary/middle school to become Summit Trails Online High School.
The majority of administrators voted in favor of the name change to Summit Trails Online High School, with only Baziuk and Hunter voting against the motion.