Virtual George School
George School transitioned to a virtual learning model for Spring Term in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“While we may not be physically together in Meeting for Worship, in assemblies, on the playing fields, in the shop, in the rituals of the dorms at night, we are still George School,” said Head of School Sam Houser. “While we may not have the physical closeness we had, we are emotionally connected and will remain so…We get to create a different kind of community that privileges the same things we value in person—the intellectual development of a new generation of young adults; and their spiritual and personal growth.”
Educators Diving In
Teachers are excited by the opportunity to not only bring lessons online but in many cases to use the new platforms to enhance the learning experience for students. Here are some examples of some of our virtual classrooms.
The Virtual Classroom: Media Literacy
Accepted students were invited to attend a virtual class on Media Literacy taught by Meredith Alford ’01, History and IB Global Politics teacher, and Scott Seraydarian ’90, Film teacher. Media Literacy and Production, a new cross-discipline course at George School, is framed around the query: How can I use media to improve the world in which I live?
The Virtual Classroom: Under Pressure
Science teacher Becky Hutchins used everyday objects from her kitchen to teach her students all about air pressure. in an online demo. In one demo she attempted to blow up a balloon inside of a bottle. Students learned that one was unable to inflate the balloon because the bottle was already filled with air
The Virtual Classroom: Orton Dorm
Orton is committed to supporting its distinctive community while so many of its residents are off campus. “It feels incredibly important to preserve that sense of home by creating opportunities to see each other, connect with each other, laugh together, and just soak up the vibe,” said Dorm Head Tom Hoopes ’83.
Student and Community Support
On March 12, 2020, Head of School Sam Houser announced that George School would move to a virtual education model for the remainder of the school year. At the beginning of the spring term, teachers and students began to use the school’s online classroom platform. In addition, a number of enhancements to community and student support were launched. Read more.
Mindful that so much new information would be directed at students and teachers alike, members of the George School administration put together a new publication, the Daily Bulletin, delivered electronically every morning to a channel on the school’s internal platform. Two versions are designed each day–one for students, and one for faculty and staff.
We have closed the George School campus. Because we are a residential boarding community, campus residents, a small number of international students unable to travel because of global travel restrictions and our essential staff are allowed on campus. Vendors and the guests of campus residents are also allowed.
Day students and domestic boarding students and their families are not allowed on campus. We have cancelled third party rentals of campus properties and our athletic facilities and fields, classrooms, dorms, and all internal common areas are locked and closed.
Essential items, such as medications, travel documents, and academic materials have been reunited with students. The Deans’ Office is coordinating the delivery of other non-essential materials. We ask for your patience as that plan is developed and implemented.
International Baccalaureate Exams
Advanced Placement Exams
AP Exam Schedule
Exams will be given from May 11 to May 22. Makeup test dates will be available for each subject from June 1 to June 5. Students can take exams at home. Each subject’s exam will be taken on the same day and at the same time, worldwide. View the full testing schedule. George School faculty remain committed to preparing students for these exams. Please encourage your child to remain in partnership with their teachers through the examination period this spring. Learn more.
GS Schedule During AP Exams
From May 13 until May 22 we will change to our schedule to accommodate the AP exam schedule (with exams at 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.) We plan to moveg to one synchronous class per day during this time. This schedule change will give students taking AP exams more flexibility to both review and focus on exams, while still keeping up with other coursework.
Will my applications be incomplete without testing?
Both the March and the May SAT tests were cancelled, and we are waiting for the College Board decision on the June SAT. Our College Counseling team receives daily updates from colleges. Here is what we have heard:
- From the testing agencies: There is a sense that testing agencies (SAT and ACT) will add a few more test dates to the fall calendar if demand requires. Stay tuned!
- From the colleges: Many colleges have opted to go test-optional next year, due to these testing complications. Colleges reaffirm that testing is only one piece in a holistic process. Going test-optional next year will create more opportunities to apply, but that does not mean it will make it easier to get in. It will simply mean that the weight of the other pieces of the application will take on more importance.
Don’t miss the “College Admissions and Testing in COVID-19” on Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. A link to register for the program will be sent to sophomore and junior families on April 16.
Should I write about my quarantine / COVID-19 experience in my essay?
When it comes to your college essay, the key is to make it uniquely yours. Many students start by asking themselves “How” am I going to write about a particular topic, when they should be asking “Why” am I choosing to write about this topic. The key is to make it your own, especially if you think it is a popular topic. COVID-19 will likely be a popular topic, but if it speaks to you to write about your experience, make it your own. In the meantime, keep a journal, reflect, and when the time comes to write, see what speaks to you.
To help our George School students with the college essay, College Counseling, in collaboration with eth English Department will host essay writing workshops in late May. Stay tuned!
Governor Wolf has ordered the closure of Pennsylvania schools—public, independent and parochial—until the end of the academic year.
That order requires us to postpone our senior week celebrations to a later date and to limit access to the campus until the order is lifted. We will not have a traditional commencement ceremony on campus in May.
Seniors will receive diplomas and on Commencement day we are exploring how to gather in some virtual way to celebrate. We also hope to reschedule an on-campus ceremony and an accompanying celebration to offer seniors a chance to gather and enjoy time together at a later date.
Students who already regularly meet in the Learning Center during the academic day can connect Learning Center staff on Microsoft Teams during their usual arrangements, based on our new schedule. We also welcome “walk-in” appointments. All students will have the ability to schedule individual video chats on Teams for study skills and content support. We also plan to resume online versions of Math Help and the Writing Center, both of which will be staffed by faculty.
The school’s counseling services program is now operating online, with daily drop-in hours. Mindful that many students face time-zone issues, appointments outside of the drop-in hours can be made as well. Students can communicate with counselors by audio, video, or chat.
Students are graded on a pass/fail scale. The important thing is for students to do the assigned work and to communicate with teachers about any obstacles they may encounter while doing so. Each teacher will specify what is necessary to pass their class. If a student passes, their yearlong grade will be at least what it was as of the end of Term 2. If a student fails, their yearlong grade will be lower than their March grade.
Teachers will provide an opportunity for those students who had an A- or lower as of March to raise their yearlong grade. The quality of work needed to raise the grade will be commensurate with what would have been necessary in the traditional model, but the type of work may be different.
Gatherings are daily check-in groups (and other meetings as needed) designed to keep the small-group connection points of a George School education thriving. The gatherings bring together pre-existing advisory groups, which allows people to maintain existing connections while making new ones. Read about a virtual birthday celebration.
When students are seeking a dose of spiritual nurture, or respite from the turbulence of the world, they can come to the Virtual Meetinghouse. Rather than walking down Meetinghouse Hill, students can enter a new sacred space located on the internal platform used by the George School community. There they will find a newly created 360 degree view of the interior, and resources offered to help students feel more centered, more whole, and more connected.
When the staff of the student newspaper learned that George School would be moving its academic program online, they responded by bringing Curious George to an internal online platform, in order to foster community and connection and keep their work vital.