When the COVID-19 pandemic forced St. Joseph School in La Puente to start the 2020-2021 school year with distance learning, principal Luis Hayes had to get creative to keep his staff and students engaged.
Since the beginning of the year, the school’s faculty and staff have started their days with a dance, performing elaborate numbers with costumes, scene changes, and of course, masks. They film the dances and send them out to students, or livestream with their classes on Zoom.
“This started as a way to stay connected with our students, give them something to look forward to,” Hayes said. “One video led to another and another, with each one being bigger and more fun.
“Parents and students would tell us how they watch those videos over and over again. They were able to see their teachers in a new light, which allowed students to laugh, dance and just have fun — all of which raised their spirits while at home.” Starting their days with dancing and costumes has led to more and more students logging in promptly, excited to see what their teachers have planned each day.
During the school’s virtual Dance-A-Thon fundraiser, Hayes streamed some of the teachers’ videos. Staff members also taught line dances and led “The Hustle” and the “Cha-Cha Slide.” Students who filmed and shared their own dance moves could have friends and family members pledge money to support St. Joseph’s fundraiser.
Although St. Joseph’s fundraiser officially closed Oct. 2, Hayes said they have left fundraising options open through Oct. 9 to help the school financially during the pandemic. The TK-8 school recently underwent a remodel, with a ceremony Aug. 28, where Bishop Dave O’Connell cut the ribbon to officially reopen the school.
“As a faculty, we have grown so much closer and are a tight unit,” Hayes said. “Our faculty comes in everyday at 7 a.m., energized, and ready to deliver a high quality Catholic education. They differentiate the instruction for all their students, pray with them daily, and still stay united as one St. Joseph family.”