Staten Island Advance

Thanks to the Huguenot school’s innovative online platform and a digital “Blackboard System,” Sea debuted a “virtual day of school.”

This meant students did not have to be physically present to attend class, but they had to “be present.”

How does that work, exactly?

On a virtual day, teachers at Sea post a lesson, accompanied by an assignment. Students must logon between 8:05 a.m. and noon and begin at least one lesson to be considered present for the day.

All the assignments were due by 11:59 p.m.

“I have to tell you, I think it’s very innovative,” says Annadale resident Lori Argento, a Sea alumna. “I put it into perspective and compared it to when I was working. On a day like today I would work from home instead of taking a vacation day. Why waste the day?”

Sea principal Father Michael Reilly puts it this way: “Almost every college uses Blackboard to offer their students entire courses online. So, certainly, we can use it to offer them online instruction on days when the weather precludes coming to school.

Reilly says the real advantage is not having “to make up the days in June when the weather is nice. From what I’ve seen so far, the students are heavily engaged on the instruction process today.”

For students who needed assistance with the assignments, an online help desk was available. According to Reilly, almost half the students in his classes had completed their assignments.

Given the choice between trudging through the snow or a digital school day, I’ll take the latter,” says Grace Garlisi, a Sea student.  “While this definitely isn’t a day off from school — we had a lot of work to do — it is a day outside of the classroom.”

Thomas Marotte, a Sea sophomore, says he prefers a virtual day to trudging into class with so much snow on the ground: “It wasn’t bad at all. We still enjoyed a day being home while also keeping pace with our school work.”

Other reactions from the Sea community were similarly positive.

What do you think? Should students be required to do complete assignments on snow days? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dr. Sara Guariglia, Vice Principal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): “The Virtual Day is very helpful to teachers because we do not have to lose instructional time.  We were able to post lectures, PowerPoint slides videos and other instructional tools along with assessments to keep our students progressing through their studies.”

Joseph Gorgorglione, Vice Principal of Academics: “Today’s ‘Virtual School Day’ is a great example, using a great combination of teacher-led-activities with self and peer learning techniques. Utilizing the technology already in their hands, students and teachers are ensuring the planned lessons and activities are progressing even when safety issues prevent access to the school building.”

Stephen Amato, Director of Information Technology: “Our SOLE program allows students to enhance the best aspects of their social-media-digital-generation and turn that into unique ways to learn, both on their own and in the classroom.”

Eileen Marotte, Parent: “As a parent who would have to struggle with the decision of letting my sons miss school or risk going, I think a virtual day is a perfect compromise, plus as a bonus I had them home to shovel. We love the direction St. Joseph by the Sea is going in.”

Clement Marotte, Sea Senior: “I’m glad I get to go to a school that’s so technologically advanced, and that they are able to keep their students safe.”

Kristine Garlisi, Parent: “While most families welcome the peace of mind that accompanies a school closure due to snow, not everyone welcomes the impact the closures have on the school calendar later in the year. A Digital Day is a happy medium that allows for students’ safety, the continuity of academics, and a natural expansion of the technology and college preparatory environment that Sea offers.”