Strengthening Heart

By Ella Kim ’22

Seniors in Maria Pollia’s Women Studies class began the month of February by hosting Immaculate Heart’s first ever Panda Family Day. This schoolwide event took place on February 8, during Catholic Schools Week, allowing students of all grade levels to form deeper connections while participating in a selection of activities.

The period began with each student arriving on the field to join their randomly-assigned group—each with a couple of students from each grade. While some were put in a group with familiar faces, most were meeting a handful of fellow IH students for the first time.

Each student was also gifted a handmade pin, consisting of a little foam heart adorned with mini roses and fastened with a safety pin. These small momentos were handed out with the hope that students will keep them to remember the events of the special day.

From then on, everyone was given the option of jump rope, crafts, hula hooping, board games, chalk art, and many other activities. While students were encouraged to wander between stations of their choosing, many took advantage of the opportunity to sit down and simply have a conversation with one another.

Overall, the day was designed to strengthen student relationships beyond the classroom. The idea began with a conversation held in Ms. Pollia’s class about the division between grade levels and the lingering disconnection in the Immaculate Heart community from the many months spent in quarantine. The seniors discussed their difficulty differentiating between year levels, and some admitted that they did not know a single sophomore or freshmen student.

As the only class to have completed a full in-person school year, the seniors also felt that many small Immaculate Heart traditions were at risk of fading away after their graduation inevitably approaches. While it became apparent that this was a great concern among the class, Ms. Pollia recognized an opportunity.

Over the next few weeks, portions of class time were allotted to planning out the event. Students collaborated to brainstorm activity options, map out stations, assemble the heart pins, and decorate posters. Every member of the Women’s Studies class was encouraged to share their ideas and logistical input as Ms. Pollia provided the constant support necessary to execute their plans.

While a lot of organizing was required on part of the class, the event was designed to not have a rigid schedule or structure. With the goal of creating an open environment for students to bond, the class wanted the day to feel reminiscent of elementary school recess. The seniors wanted to avoid forcing students to participate in specific activities, and they hoped that a casual atmosphere would allow organic connections to form.

Overall, the day was an exciting opportunity for grade levels to blend, further unifying the student body. Later in the week, seniors in Ms. Pollia’s class shared their favorite moments of the day, names of new students they’ve met, and their hope for the future of our community.

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