Bishop Noll’s new normal respects safety, celebrates 100th school year

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Information provided by Bishop Noll Institute

HAMMOND, Ind. (October 5, 2020) – Bishop Noll Institute officially began its 100th school year in August, opening its doors with stringent pandemic precautions. Now six weeks into the semester, faculty and students have settled into the routine of the school’s re-entry plan, which allowed families to choose an education path that worked best for them.

COVID protocols

The plan was formed by two task forces of Bishop Noll administrators and teachers, who worked throughout the summer. One team looked at how to adjust the existing facilities to meet safety guidelines and the other looked at how to evolve the academic process to meet Bishop Noll’s standards and keep students and teachers safe. Using the Lake County Health Department Re-entry Plan and the CDC guidelines as blueprints, the plan gave each family the option for students to attend in-person or virtually. Daily teacher instruction is livestreamed for students in the building and those students who are learning virtually at home. Additionally, Wednesday classes are virtual to allow for a mid-week deep cleaning of the building.

Some of the more intricate parts of the plan include student cohorts, designed to keep students on similar academic tracks with the same classmates throughout the day and thus minimizing movement throughout classrooms and the building. Instead of students moving throughout the day, teachers move to different cohorts.

100th school year celebrations

The school began to celebrate its 100th school year last month by hosting special events for students on its Founders’ Day, which takes place annually on September 16 and celebrates the first day of classes at what was then called Catholic Central High School.

An outdoor movie night and lunchtime event featuring ice cream bars, gift bags, and a petting zoo both took place on the football field to allow for social distancing and fun outdoors.

Bishop Noll student Daisy Gonzalez grabs an ice cream treat during a Centennial celebration event at the school. (Photo provided)

Student perspectives

Ariana Ferriera is a senior at Bishop Noll. (Photo provided)

Senior Ariana Ferreira chose to start the year in person because it is her senior year and “virtual school isn’t the same as in school,” she said. “It is a hard adjustment because everything is new and we are learning as we go. But Bishop Noll has done an excellent job of getting us back into our normal routine. They always put our health and safety first. That’s what makes us different from the rest of the other schools. They will go out of their way to make sure we have a ‘normal’ school year.’”

Ferriera is a member of the Cheer Team and said the team resumed practices and has been cheering at football games.

“I am most looking forward to all the senior activities even though it may be different. I am also excited for it being Noll’s 100th school year. I will be celebrating by making sure this is Bishop Noll’s best year yet.”

Mary Muksa is a senior at Bishop Noll. (Photo provided)

Senior Mary Buksa is also an in-school student and said it is easier to focus in a classroom setting: “I think the administration did a great job with making the school safer. Everyone has a lot of room to social distance. Bishop Noll has always and will always be a school that perseveres. No matter what is thrown at us, even a global pandemic, we get through it together as a family. ”

Buksa is president of the National Honor Society, editor of the yearbook, and a leader for the virtual freshmen retreat. All of her clubs met virtually over the summer to explore their options. In early September, National Honor Society held a virtual Honors Night to recognize the students who missed out on the opportunity to be recognized in a traditional way last spring. She is excited to be part of the school’s 100th school year.

“I am most looking forward to designing this year’s yearbook, which will include past yearbooks,” she said.

Abigail Wojtaszek is a junior at Bishop Noll. (Photo provided)

Junior Abigail Wojtaszek also chose the in-person option. She is a member of the girls golf team, which recently completed its season. “Golf is already the ultimate social distancing sport, so not much had to be changed,” she said. “We wore our masks and tried to distance ourselves as much as possible.”

Wojtaszek is also a part of the Drama Club. She said the fall play, “Clue,” will be performed as a radio production. Cast members will stand still on the stage and recite their lines in place to make sure they are socially distant.

She looks forward to continuing her legacy at Bishop Noll this year and in the future: “I’m very excited to be a part of the school as it has its 100th anniversary. I think that’s quite the momentous occasion and I’m happy to be there. I want to be known for my acting, for my golfing, for my marching in the band.”

“The Centennial is expected to be a joyous celebration and, pandemic or not, we are going to celebrate,” Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick said. “Our students have taken our precautions seriously and our staff has worked tirelessly to execute our re-entry plans. Since all parties are working hard, we will find safe and CDC-approved activities to engage our students in to celebrate this joyous occasion.”

Bishop Noll Institute is located at 1519 Hoffman St., Hammond, IN.