“In accordance with Governor Edwards’ announcement today regarding school closures in Louisiana to combat the spread of COVID-19, The Dunham School will transition to a distance learning model beginning Monday, March 16…” (Head of School Update March 13, 2020)
With that communication, the Dunham community shifted into a new mode of teaching and learning. Thanks to a well-developed contingency plan for E-school, the dedication of the faculty, and an already stellar innovation and technology program, the transition to distance learning—dubbed #DunhamAtDistance on social media—was seamless, ensuring that learning continued at the highest level.
Over the course of a weekend, family rooms became classrooms, kitchens morphed into science labs, and backyards doubled as gyms and dance studios. Lively Harkness discussions took place on Google Hangout. Elementary school math lessons incorporated household items. Music classes continued with homemade instruments, and weekly praise and worship chapel services went digital, demonstrating that Dunham’s commitment to educate minds and hearts for Christ transcends the physical boundaries of the school’s campus.
Although the initial plan was to return to school at the conclusion of the Easter break on April 14, the extension of the governor’s stay-at-home order until May 15 resulted in the continuation of distance learning through the end of the school year. A ban on large group gatherings prompted the community to rethink traditional year-end celebrations and find creative ways to stay connected, whether it was through hand-delivered banners and signs, car parades, drive-in movie style awards ceremonies, or a social media takeover to honor the Class of 2020.
Recognizing that this year’s graduating seniors were the same students who saw the beginning of their freshman year disrupted by the historic flood of 2016, the school was determined to hold commencement exercises even in the midst of the pandemic. Once Louisiana entered Phase 2 of reopening, Dunham was finally able to hold graduation on Saturday, June 13, with protocols put in place to ensure the health and safety of all attendees.
During the ceremony, National Merit Scholar Ciara Venable, who will attend the University of Southern Mississippi, was recognized as valedictorian, and Emma Grace Spencer, who will attend LSU, was named salutatorian. The 56 seniors in the Class of 2020 excelled individually as scholars, athletes, artists, and leaders. Collectively, they received 247 acceptances to 71 colleges and earned more than $7,412,986 in scholarship offers. Although their senior year ended far differently than anyone could have predicted, this year’s graduates emerged resilient, strong, and ready to begin the next chapter of their lives.
To learn more about The Dunham School, visit dunhamschool.org.