By Jessica Easthope
School principal Kevin Flanagan walked the halls of St. Anselm’s Catholic Academy for years. Now, he’s back and gearing up for a new year, the halls look the same but the school is totally different.
It’s now called Bay Ridge Catholic Academy and its curriculum will focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, also known as STEAM, the very thing that will keep its students safe from COVID-19.
“We have temperature readings being done when students and teachers enter the building so there’s a camera system that will measure everyone’s body temperature,” said Flanagan.
The new school, created out of a merger of St. Anselm’s and Holy Angels Catholic Academies always planned to rely heavily on science inside the classroom, now kids will experience the high-tech side of their school before they even enter the building.
More than 350 students will move past a thermal imaging camera upon coming into school every day, if they have a temperature, the camera will say it, giving alerts like “caution, abnormal.”
“We’ve invested a tremendous amount of resources in the health and safety of our students so that when parents send their kids here I can give them my assurance that it’s as safe as humanly possible,” Flanagan said.
Opening during a pandemic has forced the school to water down a lot of its big plans.
“Every student who came to school here was going to learn to play an instrument, unfortunately we can’t operate in a model where kids would be able to change classrooms that frequently, have their instruments with them and get adequate spacing,” said Flanagan.
The curriculum will remain focused on STEAM but will have to be modified.
“We’re going back to the basics to get open like everybody else in the community, our focus is on health and safety,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan says the school’s goal is simple – be the best in Brooklyn. How that dream will become a reality is similar to how the school started, with a merger of unique STEAM-driven courses and Catholic values.
“To instill the values of the Catholic religion and help you to be a well-shaped member of the community who are able to extend those values out into the world so the world sees the kind of students we educate here at the new Bay Ridge Catholic,” said Flanagan.
The school’s plan to reopen has already been approved by the state. The first Bay Ridge Catholic Academy students start school on September 9.