Diploma Programs Adapt to COVID-19 Restrictions


Student working in the Maker Space. Gator file photo.

Brian Gamble, Outgoing Managing Editor

As the pandemic continues to impact School, signature programs have been forced to get creative while abiding by safety restrictions.

The School’s three diploma programs, Global Studies, STEAM, and CAP, all rely on outside learning, including field trips and internship experiences. However, restrictions due to COVID-19 have limited the accessibility of some of these opportunities.

STEAM Director Chris Hardman admits that it has been more challenging to make plans during the pandemic.

“One of the major components of the STEAM Diploma Program that is most affected is the internship requirement,” Hardman said. “Most organizations that would usually offer internship opportunities have paused their programs, and others are employing people that lost their jobs due to the pandemic.”

STEAM student Alphonse Houndegla ’21 said that he was lucky to experience his internship before the pandemic hit.

“In STEAM Lab, we have to do more projects at home [this year] which is frustrating because there is so much cool equipment in the Maker Space, but it is what it is,” Houndegla said.

For Betty Wang ’21, a concurrent learner in the STEAM Program, she has faced an entirely new learning experience.

“For some classes in the STEAM Program such as Physics and STEAM Lab, we’ve adjusted to the current situation and tried various online platforms for projects and labs,” Wang said. “As someone who [is] fully concurrent, I’ve also received parts and materials that were shipped to my home so I can still have some hand-on experience.”

According to Hardman, STEAM students have had to be flexible to comply for new safety procedures during the pandemic.

“While most rising seniors will be unable to participate in an internship this summer, I am still working with students on how to put together a resume and cover letter for applications,” Hardman said. “In order to make up for the lack of internship opportunities, students are being asked to take part in virtual programming through respected STEAM institutions, or additional online courses through EdX.”

Other program directors echoed Hardman’s thoughts.

Creative Arts Diploma Program (CAP) Director Bill Jacob said that he has experienced similar problems, especially since the program usually entails many field trips.

“Some of the biggest parts of CAP are going out to see shows,” Jacob said. “The other part was traveling over to the Sumner School to work with the kids there, which we cannot do now.”

For CAP student Martin Maynard ’22, the pandemic has inspired his art and served as a downer.

“For me, I would say getting inspiration for my art is because of COVID,” Maynard said. “I haven’t been able to go to art exhibits or performances with classmates who are in CAP.”

Director of the Global Studies Diploma Program Kelly Neely also shared how the loss of field trips impacted the program.

“This year has been different because we haven’t had a regular meeting time,” Neely said. “We haven’t been able to do school field trips this year. This would have been a Winterim year, but that was unable to happen as well.”

Global Studies student Leah Bell ‘22 joined the program this year.

“Due to COVID and the challenges it presents, I have attended many Global Studies events virtually at night,” Bell said. “While these events are very informative, I am sad that the program has not been able to go on any field trips throughout the school year.”

Neely shared several methods that she has employed to work around the constraints of the pandemic.

“The prevalence of digital programming has grown this year, and this has allowed us to bring some people over Zoom,” Neely said. “It’s actually easier because we are able to talk to people around the world who would have been unavailable otherwise. We also had a lot of digital offerings around the city of Boston.”