ALL SMILES BE­HIND THE MASKS:

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - Front Page - By CO­RAL COOK­SLEY

Beech­worth Se­condary Col­lege Year 12 stu­dent and school cap­tains Owen Chris­te­sen (left), Kee­ley Mor­ri­son with Year 7 stu­dents Ty Klip­pel and Abby Tid­ball.

BEECH­WORTH Se­condary Col­lege and Ruther­glen High School stu­dents stepped back into the class­room on Monday af­ter weeks of re­mote learn­ing at home for the sec­ond time this year.

With stu­dents spend­ing most of their aca­demic year learn­ing by dif­fer­ent meth­ods away from their nor­mal school set­ting, a fo­cus on well-be­ing is a top pri­or­ity for both schools as stu­dents tran­si­tion back into their learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Pre­pared ac­tiv­i­ties help stu­dents set­tle back into school life and Beech­worth Se­condary Col­lege prin­ci­pal Pa­tri­cia Broom said hav­ing keen, en­er­getic stu­dents back cre­ated a pos­i­tive at­mos­phere.

“It feels like day one of a whole new year,” she said.

Ms Broom said a lot of time will be spent with stu­dents across all years with sup­port from Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Vic­to­ria to make sure well-be­ing is a top pri­or­ity, .

“Some kids have loved work­ing on­line, some kids are be­hind - we have to catch up con­nect and look af­ter each other,” she said.

Ruther­glen prin­ci­pal Phil Rogers said stu­dents were re­lieved to be back, ex­cited but a lit­tle ner­vous.

“They haven’t seen friends for a long time and be­ing back in the school en­vi­ron­ment can be over­whelm­ing with such things as rou­tines, need­ing to be on time and wear­ing school uni­forms,” he said.

Mr Rogers said new tech­nol­ogy pre­sented chal­lenges in the be­gin­ning but stu­dents and teach­ers learned new skills and had en­gaged in a dif­fer­ent learn­ing style.

“Some kids did re­ally well and some kids strug­gled,” he said.

Mr Rogers said as a small school in a small rural town many stu­dents also lived on farm­ing prop­er­ties and with stu­dents not be­ing able to see each other had missed out on so­cial in­ter­ac­tion with school ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing sport­ing ones.

“Ev­ery­one is happy to be back - it’s been a re­ally pos­i­tive feel­ing and has been good all round,” he said.

With dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences en­coun­tered for some stu­dents where par­ents had to work from home as well, Ms Broom said they had to find their own space too.

She said Year 7 stu­dents only be­ing at school for eight weeks this year were get­ting to know each other again.

Beech­worth Se­condary Col­lege Year 12 stu­dent and one of two cap­tains, Owen Chris­te­sen, said he missed the school at­mos­phere through hav­ing to work from home as well as im­por­tant study groups where stu­dents helped each other.

“It’s great to be back and see friends but feels a bit weird be­cause we haven’t been at school for quite a while,” he said.

“The year goes quickly es­pe­cially for year 12 stu­dents but I feel like we have hardly been here and we have VCE ex­ams next month.”

Glad to be back at school, Ruther­glen Year 11 stu­dent Kehlee Rose said it was hard get all school work done at home, when un­able to be face-to-face with teach­ers.

“Hav­ing teach­ers in the room to help clar­ify in­struc­tions is re­ally help­ing me to get back on top of my stud­ies,” she said.

At the start of re­mote learn­ing, Kehlee said it was even more chal­leng­ing with­out ac­cess to her own com­puter but the school pro­vided her with a lap­top shortly af­ter ‘lock­down’, which “was great”.

“We had a lot of sup­port avail­able and were en­cour­aged to con­tact the school at any stage,” she said.

PHOTO: Co­ral Cook­sley.

PHOTO: sup­plied

HAPPY: Ruther­glen High School stu­dents Kehlee Rose (left), Natasha Neely and Shaylee Frost are glad to be back with face-to-face learn­ing.

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