Soapstone School House

Caption: Students arrive each morning to sit at their assigned desk. There are chords running to each of those desks, letting kids plug in the whole time they are there. (Photo Courtesy of Gretchen Stern)

Soapstone UMC on Norwood Road created the “Soapstone Schoolhouse,” where so far about twenty students come every morning to have class. 

With in-person school a thing of the past for many students, they are left seeing people through a computer with no real connection to anyone else. Different churches and other facilities like Soapstone have recently taken on this problem and are providing a place for students to find some resemblance of what they experience in a real school setting. 

There are different precautions used to make sure everyone stays safe. “Each student has a different assigned table spread 6 feet apart, kids and volunteers make sure to social distance and wear masks when away from their desks, and when people come into the church in the morning they wash hands and get their temperature taken. We also make sure to clean and sanitize everything every day,” said Wendy Teeter, the head of this new program. 

The schoolhouse is in its third week. So far things have run relatively smoothly, but as with all things, there are a few difficulties along the way. 

“The biggest hurdle to overcome has been having appropriate wifi that is strong enough for everyone to use,” said Teeter. “Scheduling is the other main problem — there are kids of different ages that go to different schools all in the same space, which is a little hard to manage.” 

Despite these things, overall it has already proven to be a successful experiment. “I think the success is achieving the main purpose — the kids are having a safe, fun place to get their work done,” said Teeter. “During any rest times they can go to the break room to relax, have a snack, play outside and hang out with others.” 

“I think being able to get out of the house everyday is really helpful,” said Hayden Kizakevich, a schoolhouse participant and also a sophomore at Leesville. “Everybody is really respectful of everyone else and it’s just a really good work environment.” 

In this unique enviornment kids will participate in classes like P.E, music, and foods from their table. “It was funny to see some of the younger kids suddenly stand up and start doing jumping jacks,” said Kizakevich. 

People can encourage and help one another through their classes, and almost be a part of each other’s school-life from a distance. 

Schooling in a sanctuary is one of the many new ideas people are adapting to in order to make the best of a hard situation. Hopefully we will be back to in-person school soon, but until then this chance to safely socialize and participate in class with others is very welcome to both the students and parents who can focus on their own work for a while without worrying about their kids. 


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