Siblings Jade and Dylan Rudder, both students at Summit Academy School – Lorain, participate in the school’s virtual Spartan Spirit Week by reading books while staying in their PJs on Monday. The activity is one of a host of fun and educational assignments Principal Michael Williston scheduled to keep students engaged in learning while school doors remain closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

While doors remain closed and classrooms empty at schools across the state, Summit Academy School – Lorain is working hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for its students amid the COVID-19 outbreak. For starters, Lorain Secondary, as the school is commonly known, is hosting a virtual Spartan Spirit Week.

Spearheaded by Principal Michael Williston, the weeklong lineup of activities is underway to encourage the school’s sixth- through 12th-graders to continue to learn and practice positive behavior, and also take time out from COVID-19 media announcements that may trigger anxiety.

“Working with students with special needs who may get anxious [over the COVID-19 outbreak], I wanted to set up a way to make their time out of school a little better. Yes, the kids are away from school, but we still need to educate them,” Williston says. He adds that while he and his staff are supplying students with “blizzard bags” packed with worksheets, assignments and other learning activities, they continue to seek creative means to educate their students remotely.

Lorain Secondary’s at-home activities are also geared to support the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program in place at the school and at all Summit Academy schools. The program rewards students with points for good behavior. Students who participate in the school’s Spirit Week activities, for instance, will earn points to redeem for rewards such as attendance at special activities, pizza parties and the like.

Siblings Jade and Dylan Rudder, both students at the school, spent yesterday in PJs reading books as part of Spartan Spirit Week. Garbed in flannel and with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney in hand, seventh-grader Dylan says he appreciated the chance to spend the day reading a book from his favorite series. He says other at-home assignments will help him stay on top of his education.

“The assignments are giving us a chance to get ready for state tests,” Dylan says.

Sixth-grader Jade, who read “Alice in Wonderland” yesterday, says she enjoyed the opportunity to learn and have fun while staying home from school.

“Spirit Week is encouraging kids to do positive things at home. It’s fun,” she says. Jade adds that her teachers, now at a distance, are the kind she can’t help but miss.

“I like the teachers. They’re really supportive,” she says. “When you have a problem, you can always go to someone who will help you out.”

The siblings’ mother, Yolanda Hernandez, credits Williston for structuring at-home activities for her children that are both enjoyable and educational.

“To see the school change it up and also break from something other than related to the coronavirus is a breath of fresh air,” she says.

Other virtual spirit week activities include an exercise day that encourages students to go for a walk, do jumping jacks or participate in another physical fitness activity and another day that focuses student attention on creating a concoction that expresses something positive about the school and being a Spartan, among other goings-0n.