Sister schools go the distance in learning


Jacey Heffernan '21

See how schools in the Society of Sacred Heart are adjusting to online learning initiatives.

Due to the social distancing guidelines during COVID-19, schools in the Society of the Sacred Heart have implemented new techniques for online learning.  From The Newton Country Day School in Boston, Massachusetts, to the Convent and Stuart Hall in San Fransisco, California and Sacred Heart School in Atherton, California, students are adjusting to learning from home.

The Newton Country Day School began implementing distance learning February 31.  Students attend classes on Zoom Video Communications, Inc., which is a free app that enables online meetings and virtual presentations.  The Newton Country Day School students also submit assignments on Google Classroom, a free web service that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments without using paper, according to

The Newton Country Day School located in Boston Massachusetts. Courtesy of

Newton Country Day School junior Abby Connon shares how the school utilizes Zoom and Google Classroom to include faith, athletics, and academics into their virtual school days.

“In efforts to continue fostering tradition, faith, and community, my school has made a separate Instagram exclusive to students and faculty called the ‘goal4forum,'” Abby said.  “On this, they’ve been hosting live workouts and chapel services, posting prerecorded art lessons and messages from students and teachers, and encouraging us to participate in spirit days like ‘formal Friday.’”

Abby noted the absence of some extracurricular activities from the distance learning program.  She misses being able to participate in dance, art, band, and chorus. 

Additionally, to accommodate the social distancing guidelines, the College Board has turned all 2020 Advanced Placement (AP) tests into online assessments, according to  As a result, Abby’s AP instructors have changed their course plans to prepare their students for the May exams.

“My school wasn’t able to incorporate any of the arts or extracurriculars into our schedules, so that’s a very big part of my school life that I’m now missing,” Abby said.  “Further, as a junior in three AP courses, many of my teachers are frantically redesigning their course to best prepare us for the newly configured exams.”

Convent and Stuart Hall began their online learning initiative March 13.  Sophomore Olivia Rounsaville spoke about how her school administration is working to keep their community together through distance learning.

“Our school administration is handling it well; we take Zoom classes every day except for Mondays,” Olivia said.  “Mondays are scheduled for the teachers to prepare for the week because their workload has increased.  Other than that, we have community videos, chapel videos, and advisory time which helps keep the community together.”

Ms. Anna T. McDonald, Assistant Principal and Educational Therapist, works at the Sacred Heart Preparatory, Atherton.  The coed school began distance learning March 16.  The administration at Atherton provides many opportunities for students to collaborate with the school through Zoom video conferences.

Sacred Heart Preparatory, Atherton student Alan K teaches dance moves in a community building video. Courtesy of Ms. McDonald

“We are offering a number of community building opportunities such as virtual affinity groups and clubs via Zoom, sharing online reflections, Espacio, Mass, and meditations,” Ms. McDonald said.  “We created and implemented distance learning program called ‘Prep Online!’ following guidelines in this Flexible Plan for Instructional Continuity.”

Every morning, the student life team at Sacred Heart Preparatory, Atherton, sends a bulletin to the school community that includes community building ideas and activities, as well as resources for prayers.  Ms. McDonald hopes that these activities will help maintain the strong community of both students and faculty at Sacred Heart Preparatory, Atherton.

Abby treasures the community both within her school and within the greater Sacred Heart Network.  She hopes that The Newton Country Day School will continue implementing activities to strengthen this environment during their distance learning.

“My favorite part of Sacred Heart, and what makes our school so unique, has always been the relationships, something very hard to replicate through technology,” Abby said.

Featured Image by Jacey Heffernan ’21