Updated with new information

Old Colony to move to new schedule, hold July prom, graduation

May 1, 2020

ROCHESTER — Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School will move into an alternating vocational and academic schedule for online classes starting May 4, and plans to hold prom and graduation for seniors in July, if it is safe to do so then. 

Starting on May 4, grades 9 and 11 will focus on academic work from May 4 to May 8, while grades 10 and 12 will study vocational work. Both grades will then switch from week to week.

Monday and Tuesday are devoted to direct instruction, which functions like a lecture or class rather than asking students to use resources on their own, while Wednesdays and Thursdays are for office hours. On Fridays, teachers provide feedback for the previous week’s work. 

With the announcement of the new learning plan, parents had questions about how the system would work. In a virtual check-in over Zoom on May 1, Old Colony Superintendent-director Aaron Polansky, Principal Michael Parker and other teachers and administrators were able to discuss how to move forward.

“Our desire to help families has never been so high, and our ability has never been more inhibited,” said Polansky. 

Students will be expected to virtually attend class lectures and complete assignments throughout the week to receive credit for each weekly cycle. Students will be graded on a credit/non credit system, which will be shown in the school’s online portal. 

Prior to the rollout of a new schedule, the school had vocational students make how-to videos and challenged staff to reenact the procedure. Superintendent Polansky said that he was going to film himself dying his wife’s roots using a student’s video that he said was so detailed and articulate that she could be working as a cosmetologist now. 

Polansky said in the check-in that direct learning will increase moving forward to bridge the gaps of a normal learning experience and deter students from thinking of this time as a hiatus. 

Cate Tuccinardi, the school’s head of academic studies, walked parents through the block scheduling to help clear any confusion. Parents and students alike were confused about scheduling conflicts within a block.

Tuccinardi explained that students were double scheduled because some blocks are broken up into two halves and have shorter classes in them, not unlike the block scheduling that students use in school.

Bethany Botehlo, head of vocational studies, outlined how the department will use state academic standards in their assignments. She said that the vocational school in the state will use the same teaching resources, such as assignments and programs, so that schools will be on the same page and be held to the same standards.

Botehlo said this time has “been a real challenge for instructors” because, just like their students, they are not able to teach in the shops with equipment and give feedback in real-time.

If students need technological equipment like chromebooks, educators said they should reach out to Parker to arrange this. Parents should reach out to anyone in the administration or staff if they have general questions.

The last day of school for seniors who meet graduation requirements will be May 28 and Senior Week will be July 13 to 19, with prom on July 16 and graduation on July 19 at 1 p.m. These dates are also dependent on orders from the Governor’s office.

The last day of school for non-seniors will be June 19.

To further the discussion on the end of the school year, the administration will hold another virtual check-in over coffee on May 6 at 10 a.m. The link to sign up can be found here.

Polansky said that although the job of teachers and staff is to figure out a way to continue learning, they are here to help because they “are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.”