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Holtville High Works to Keep Students Engaged
A screen capture from the Vikings Times Podcast on Facebook is shown. | VIDEO SCREEN CAPTURE

Holtville High Works to Keep Students Engaged

HOLTVILLE — At this time last year, the students and faculty of Holtville High School could be seen in the hallways or walkways running to get to their classes, the parking lots full of vehicles. 

However, that is clearly not the case this year as COVID has forced Holtville High, like all schools in Imperial County, into distance learning, so school officials have to find new and innovative ways to engage students and make them feel connected to campus.

One tool being used to engage Holtville High students is Viking Times “podcasts.” Via Facebook, Holtville High has been having weekly video presentations to gather and deliver information and keep students and staff informed on latest news and updates. 

Recently, Viking Times Podcast No. 5 covered a variety of topics, including synergy glitch, g‑mail account changes, athletic packages, 9/11 presentation, attendance matters, CSF applications, yellow ribbon positive quote, deficiency notices, higher education week, and much more.

The team on the podcast usually consists of Holtville High’s principal, Anthony Arevalo, Associated Student Body commissioners and advisors, Dean of Students/Athletic Director, C.J. Johnston, and sometimes special guests or speakers.

Behind the scenes, each participant comes together at 2 p.m. every Friday for the recording of their individual video. The videos are edited together over the weekend are made available on Facebook as well as Instagram the following Monday.  

Arevalo, who has been principal at the high school going on four years, said he tries to join all the podcast meetings and provide an update on major occurrences such as deficiencies or technical issues that students may be having. 

“The majority of the podcast is covered by the ASB students,” Arevalo said. “The ASB students are a group of students who represent the entire student body. Lately, we have been bringing in new teachers, and the ASB co-commissioners to interview them.”

An Update on Distance Learning

“Our model (for distance learning) is very interesting for high school,” Arevalo said. 

From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., students have seven 30-minute periods live with teachers. 

Lunch is from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. From 1 to 2 p.m. teachers are available online to provide tutoring assistance to students, he said.

The teachers assign 20 minutes of independent work per student which may consist of reading, watching a video, project, etc. 

“One of our biggest challenges,” Arevalo said, “is dealing with the unknown in terms of technology. We have had instances in which certain Internet providers are down which has led to some students and teachers having glitches with their meetings. Our hope is that teachers, students, and parents continue to work together during this difficult and strange time in education.” 

A screen capture from the most recent Viking Times Podcast meant to keep students and staff engaged during distance learning shows: top row (from left to right) Mrs. Duarte (co-ASB advisor), Mrs. Arevalo (co-ASB advisor), Mr. Johnston (dean of students/athletic director); middle row: Mr. Arevalo (principal), Ms. Velarde (ASB co-commissioner of spirit), Mr. Smith (government/economics teacher); bottom row: Ms. Iniguez and Ms. Gonzalez (both ASB co-commissioners of spirit). | VIDEO SCREEN CAPTURE

Arevalo emphasized, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Holtville High School if we may be of any assistance.” 

Arevalo gave thanks to the teachers for all the work that they are doing during this time. 

“They are going above and beyond … we appreciate all their efforts.”

This story is featured in the Oct 1, 2020 e-Edition.