12 July 2021
n February, pupils at Northampton High began connecting with students at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, San Diego, studying over 5,400 miles away. The project connected Year 6 pupils with 15-17-year-olds studying in California.
This international collaboration offered pupils the chance to connect with one another through informal gatherings and to broaden their horizons by exchanging stories and experiences of what it’s like to grow up in the UK and USA. Remembering a highlight of an early meeting, Year 6 pupil Florence recalls:
“It was great to be able to go to the breakout rooms and play games and talk about things that were different about where we lived. During one meeting it was snowing here and some of the ALOP students had never seen snow- they were so excited!”
During the online meet-ups, there were plenty of opportunities to explore differences between the UK and USA with conversations ranging from different sporting preferences to regional ice-cream flavours. Students at Northampton were amazed to hear that several ALOP students travel over the Mexican border each day to reach school while our Californian friends were interested to hear about British cuisine and our unpredictable weather!
The final session at the end of June focussed on transitioning from junior to secondary school with pupils invited to add their roses and thorns to a digital noticeboard. The roses symbolised what pupils were excited about as they looked ahead to next year, the thorn a chance to share a worry about starting secondary school. Amidst lots of chatter and laughter reassurances were offered and collective experiences shared illustrating the universality of feelings around moving on and embracing new opportunities. Isla in Year 6, reflected on the last session:
“Hopping Across the Pond has been a blast! Everyone was so welcoming and always had something positive to contribute. It has really helped to boost our confidence and help us to think positively about the transition from Junior School to Senior School.”
Rooted in the GDST’s values of being fearless and forward-thinking, throughout the project students have felt empowered to find their voice, to make new friends, and to learn more about growing up in different settings. Year 6 teachers explained the value of the collaboration noting, “We highly value our relationships with other schools around the globe and this project is an unmissable opportunity to forge meaningful connections with pupils in another country. The digital age allows barriers to be broken down and a strong unified approach to be adopted, strengthening our resolve to make the future brighter for all women and girls.”
Speaking about the benefits of working with Northampton High School, Bridgette Ouimette, Strategic Initiatives & Research Director, Academy of Our Lady of Peace, comments, “It is so important for us to nurture global collaborations for our girls, so as to create a platform through which girls can appreciate diversity and forge meaningful partnerships, especially given the increasing interconnectivity of our world.”
Following on from such a valuable pilot programme this year, the collaboration will continue next academic year.