Sixth grader Mikayla Hinchley

Sixth grader Mikayla Hinchley kept the Zoom meeting flowing following a video tour of the current progress on their school’s renovation.

Every year, Trinidad Middle School (TMS) holds a back-to-school pep rally to kick off the year and start the semester on a positive note. While this year has been quite a bit different for the Junior High School, as with most schools, on Monday, Sept. 28, staff and students jumped onto a virtual, online Zoom meeting to continue the tradition.

Led by students, the presentation included information from staff regarding online learning for the semester as well as a thank you from TMS Principal Deana Pachelli who expressed that the pandemic had presented them an opportunity to learn, and they would rise to meet the challenge; a fitting attitude for a school.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is a newfound appreciation for brick-and-mortar education, the need for getting an online education platform in place and perfected, and last but not least patience and perseverance,” said Pachelli.

Following the rally, Pachelli said she was happy with the turnout and hoped it brought some spirit to students.

“We wanted to connect with the kids,” said Pachelli. “Even though we’re remote we wanted to make sure we were still doing those things that were normal for them.”

According to Pachelli, they received some good feedback on the presentation, especially the update to the ongoing renovations at the middle school building. With the city passing the bond to help the renovations happen, Pachelli said she felt people appreciated seeing where their tax dollars were going.

“That video was in an effort to make sure the community knows that their support of us and this project is actually helping to make things happen,” said Pachelli.

The school has offered several trainings for students, staff, and parents for logging into Microsoft 365 Teams, which are programs students and staff use to communicate with each other and submit work. But sometimes even the best efforts to avoid issues cant anticipate uncontrollable snags.

“Yesterday [Monday], we planned to send the link out [for the Zoom rally] during advisory,” said Pachelli. Advisory is a class period where students work with their teacher to form goals for the school year and help with social/emotional learning. “But during the time we have advisory, Microsoft Teams went down nation-wide. So we were then able to send the link via text and email through our school messenger system so parents were still able to get it. We always have to be ready to pivot.”

Now in their third week of the semester, Pachelli said they are starting to mellow out a bit on the learning curve of taking the semester online. The first week proved difficult with orientation and getting kids the support and access to internet and their classes and the second week was spent working out some other kinks to the online system.

“That first week was pretty rocky,” said Pachelli. “Last week, we had a lot of technical issues. This week, we’re starting to level out. Kids are starting to get use to when their direct instruction sessions are and check in for every period every day. As we start to move from this week, it will get even smoother.”

For more information about the school’s remote learning program, contact Trinidad Middle School at 719-846-4411. Students and parents are encouraged to visit the school’s webpage, often for updates and upcoming special events such as the rally.

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