By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN— While schools across the nation are grappling with the complexities of distance learning and children are suffering the effects of isolation, North Nashville’s St. Pius Academy has welcomed its students back to classrooms with increased precautions.
“We’re extremely grateful to be able to be on campus right now with our students and that’s been a tremendous gift to us this school year,” said Principal Lori Patton. “The conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year was certainly a challenge for everyone, and we did our very best with our students while they were remote, but we were very grateful that the Diocese of Nashville decided to have us return in person for the school year. We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been able to maintain that throughout this year so far and by the grace of God hopefully we’re able to stay on that same track.”
Patton credited the school’s large classrooms and the low teacher-to-student ratio for allowing the campus to maintain the required distancing standards as well as enacting firm health protocols during Mass. The result is that the school’s entire student body is in class every day.
“We do have some learners that are remote because of family circumstances and health concerns but pretty much everyone is back on campus at this point,” Patton said, adding the school is providing laptops, Chromebooks and tablets and has “closed in on that one-to-one ratio with technology to better our academic programming.”
The school also offers S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programming which Patton said is helping students “thrive with hands-on, more inquisitive learning.”
As Catholic Schools Week kicked off, students participated in a variety of events as they do every year but with some changes to maintain necessary health protocols that Patton said wouldn’t be as interactive. “We still want to celebrate the students and their achievements,” she remarked.
St. Pius offers a faith-based learning environment with programs to enrich students’ learning experience and to prepare them for high school. The school enrolls children from pre-K (three and four years of age) to eighth grade. Enrollment is open for the 2021-2022 school year and an Open House is scheduled for Sunday, February 7 from one to three p.m. Pre-K enrollment often fills up quickly, Patton said, so it’s better not to hesitate. Families can also call and make an appointment to tour the school and see if it’s right for them.
Although St. Pius is a Catholic school, Patton emphasized that the institution is welcoming of all faiths.
“St. Pius takes great pride in serving the North Nashville community and its surroundings,” she said. “We want to be able to impact as many students’ lives as possible and to provide them with our academic programming because we’ve seen the success of our students as they go on to high school, and we want to be able to offer that to as many families as possible. So if they’re looking for something different, if they feel in their hearts it’s time for a change, we want to be there to support them. We are a faith community and we want to do our very best to support every child in our community as well.”
“We know we’re in a unique position compared to most of our community in that the students are here and we’ve been able to really maintain our high level of academics throughout this,” Patton continued. “Though there have been challenges, it’s so worth it to know our students are continuing to grow and they have our support.”