By: Sarabeth Weszely, Senior Writer
April 28, 2020
Coronavirus/ like a new dark energy/ which was always here./ It was tiny,/ not familiar,/ until it spread like a wildfire/ leaving only its dark energy behind…/ But a dot of light can overcome the darkness…/ that the joy of life outside is being realized…/ and the earth is healing itself.
– excerpted from a poem by Inwood Academy High School student Mia Salcedo
As many things have changed around us over the past month and a half, we want to update you on some of the changes we have made as a school in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in our world and city.
We transitioned to a remote learning format on March 18 and have been adjusting to meet the many needs that this challenge poses for our students and families since then. On April 7, we distributed new Chromebooks to 585 Inwood Academy students who did not previously own the technology they needed to be fully successful with remote learning. We are currently awaiting a second shipment of Chromebooks to distribute to our remaining 350 students.
We have been working to support families who are out of work and encourage those who continue to work in essential fields. We keep an updated list of resources for families on our website’s community resource page and a list of interactive learning activities for students on our Remote Exploration page.
Remote Learning Reflections
Next month, we will begin a campaign to encourage a culture of reading and writing in our school during this time in quarantine. We got a head start and have asked a few students and teachers to reflect on their experience with remote learning so far. Here are a few replies:
“To be honest, I really thought I was going to hate this experience, but I actually love going to school digitally. I get to complete my work with all of the time in the world and I get to spend time with my family too. During this free time, I have had the chance to start a YouTube channel. I have also been making sure to stay in communication with my friends. It is important to me to keep this communication because without communication, people can get distant and that isn’t healthy. When I feel afraid, I go to my best friend and my family, because they will be together with me through thick and through thin.”
-Orianna Toribio, 9th grade
like a new dark energy
which was always here.
It was tiny,
until it spread like a wildfire
leaving only its dark energy behind.
But like in the yin and yang,
the yin has that dot of light.
Light which travels 186,282 miles per second,
that dot of light can overcome the darkness,
can become the light side, yang,
leaving the virus as the small yin dot.
Yang being that families are becoming closer,
faith and prayers are increasing
the joy of life outside is being realized
and the most important is that
Earth is healing itself.
– Full poem by Mia Salcedo, 9th grade
“Each morning, one of my 7th grader students calls me and says ‘Miss! You forgot to post work today!’ I don’t forget, it’s just that I don’t have to make a new post everyday. I am so encouraged by her eagerness and willingness to work.”
– 7th grade Literacy teacher
“I love myself, I love my family, I love to be happy, and I love my teachers, even though I give them attitude. They are also like family. I’m sorry for all the negative stuff I’ve done in school. I probably won’t do it again. I’m turning into a better kid.”
– 7th grade student
“My son’s work habits and energy have completely shifted in this process. If you could only hear some of the things he’s been saying: ‘I’m smart!’ ‘Who knew math could be so interesting!’ ‘My brain has opened up!’ His words, not mine. Thank you so much for all the work you’ve put in through this process. I’m doing my best to take this all in because somehow he thrives in remote learning. He misses his friends and the social aspect of school, but he likes learning this way. I’ve not known him to be the student he is now.”
– 6th grade parent
While we are deeply encouraged by reflections like these, we know that remote learning is innately challenging for many students, including our alumni, who are finishing their first and second years of college.
College already presents a large slew of challenges for first generation college students, and those challenges become even more daunting when you have to learn to face them from home. Our alumni coordinators have been working to help our alumni stay motivated, create schedules, and care for their mental health. One way our alumni have adjusted to these difficulties is by pursuing hobbies. An alumni studying at SUNY Jefferson has recently started gardening in indoor pots to stay busy at her off campus apartment while doing school work. We are inspired by her resilience and that of our entire community.
Essential Worker Shout Outs
We want to honor the many essential workers who are sacrificially keeping our city afloat during this pandemic, and we have quite a few who come from our very own community! Here are photos and brief messages from them at work:
Johanna Mendez works for Englewood Hospital as a Patient Care Tech in CVICU and Gregory Dominguez works for Stericycle as Sharp Specialist Supervisor. They are the parents of Jared Dominguez (7th grade) and Jadah Dominguez (11th grade). “We stay motivated by our faith in God and passion to aid those in need.”
Vanessa Aquino is the mother of Arianna Aquino (11th grade) and Geovanni Canales (9th grade) and she is a registered nurse at Bronx VA hospital. “What gives me courage and keeps me going is the thought of my children. I help these patients because I made an oath to care for my fellow man. I sacrifice time with my family at home. I think of everyone I encounter as a family member and try my best to let them know they are cared for. This is a scary time for everyone so I also try to educate my family about the realities of this disease. My hope is that we will soon have a cure.”
José Avelino is the father of 5th grade student Jeranis Avelino and he works in construction. As an essential worker, he is motivated by his commitment to provide for his family and the needs of the city.
Miosoty Gutierrez is the mother of 8th grade IAL student Luis Lantigua and she works in health care. “My passion is to work at the hospital. When you see a patient leaving with a smile, that melts my heart. I take good care of my patients.”
Elias Rodriquez is a father to 6th grader Elina Rodriguez and 10th grader Samantha Rodriguez, and he works as a truck driver. “I keep pushing forward for my family, and because if we stop our trucks, everyone will really be in trouble. God gives me the strength to do so.”
Fatima Mateo is the mother of 6th grade student Jose Arias and she works as a home attendant. “What motivates first of all is that, thanks to God, I am healthy, and second, the person I take care of is elderly and alone. She needs my care and company.”
Sulain Gomez is the mother of 5th grade student Dalton and she works as a Child Protective Specialist with the Administration for Children’s Services. “What keeps me going is my children, my family, and all the children in NYC that need my help to ensure their safety and well-being!”
Mark Paul and Karen Conception are the parents of 7th grade student Brianna Paul and they both are essential workers. Mark works as a concierge at the Avalon Building. “Brianna is our main reason why! Being parents, we both have to be strong for children. We strive to be a good example, so showing her strength and love in this trying time is essential.”
Yudy Villanola is the mother of fifth grade student Karen Cabrera and she works in a hospital. “It’s very hard to see your loved ones and not be able to hug them. I’m staying at a hotel to keep my mom and daughter safe, not because I have the virus but because I’m working directly with COVID-19 positive patients. God and my family keeps me going!”
Ana de Jesus is the mother of Julian Corona (6th grade), Julio Corona (8th grade), and Juliana Corona (10th grade) and she works as a therapist in a healthcare facility. “I fight to protect the elderly and people with different disabilities from depression, loneliness, boredom, confusion caused by dementia, frustration and fear because they can’t see their family. I provide them with special psycho/social support in this difficult time.”
Luis Ruiz is the father of 7th grade student Christopher Ruiz and he works long hours in a grocery store. “What keeps me going is providing for his family and the community.”
Alba Carreo is the mother of 6th grade student Ashley Carrero and she works as a home attendant. “What keeps me going is being able to help the elderly lady I take care of, who is unable to get out of bed.”
Aimee Garcia is the older sister of Ramly Javier (12th grade) and she works as a Registrar for the Valley Hospital alongside her team of healthcare workers. “No one is ever prepared for a pandemic, but together we can always make the process easier by helping each other stay safe.”
Jasmin Gutierrez is the mother of 12th grade student Jerison Beato, and she works at New York Presbyterian Hospital. “The thing that keeps me going is making patients smile and brightening their days.”
Emperatriz Rodriguez is the the mother of Angelica Bates (8th grade) and Gregory Rodriguez (5th grade) and she works at St. Barnabas Hospital helping COVID-19 patients and families.
A message from 10th grade student Bartolo Juaquin:
“This is my dad, Bartolo Joaquin. During this difficult time of the pandemic, he has had to work to help those in need, even if he is at risk every minute to get the virus. My dad, however, is very caring and does it all with a lot of love.”
Thank you to all front-line workers inside and out of our community!