St. Josephine Virtual High School educator builds inclusive communities online

How do you build an inclusive environment in a virtual high school? Ask Jenna MacLellan, a St. Josephine Virtual High School teacher with sharp eyes and a big heart! This caring educator at St. Josephine noticed a need and took action so student life could thrive at the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s first permanent virtual high school.

Virtual Clubs to support wellness, friendship, and so much more!

Last year, MacLellan noticed a number of her students were struggling in her virtual classes, so she collaborated with colleagues to create virtual spaces of belonging for students, and virtual clubs took off. 

“Many students find it difficult to make friends within the virtual context. By creating different interest groups, we can support different student needs and interests,” said Ms. MacLellan. “To help encourage overall wellness, friend-making and developing a sense of community at our new virtual high school, I launched a virtual ‘Club Fair,’” she continued. “Interested teachers could host a group or club either before or after school.”

Wide range of options to connect diverse interests of students

The opportunities for students beyond the classroom at St. Josephine cover a broad range of interests, as you might see at a traditional OCSB high school. Whether you’re interested in faith, anime, baking, math or Zumba dancing, there is pretty much something for every student.

One example of the diversity of the clubs is the more than 20 students who make up the Muslim Girls Group, including some female students of different faith backgrounds who have joined because they want to be allies to their peers. 

“These initiatives are new and exciting, and they give kids an opportunity to build community beyond their academic classes,” remarked Principal David Nash.

“Students want to, above all, make new friends while drawing or crafting while listening to their favourite music,” said MacLellan. A major kudos to the St. Josephine staff for offering such a wide variety of interest groups for students in their virtual high school community. St. Josephine students can participate in a wide range of clubs, including:

  • Divide & Conquer Math Club
  • Games Club
  • ESports Team
  • Podcast Club
  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Club
  • Morning Walkers
  • Muslim Girls Group
  • Baking Club
  • Anime Club
  • Rosary Group
  • Trivia Club
  • Chess Club
  • Eco Club
  • Alpha Club (faith discussions in collaboration with All Saints High School)
  • Programming Club
  • Virtual Band
  • Book Club
  • Dance Club (with monthly virtual dance challenges!)

The list of opportunities for our virtual students continues to grow! A student from St. Josephine is part of the Board’s Black Student Advisory Council and she hopes to soon see a Black Student Association form at the school. Similarly, students are looking at creating the school’s first Gay-Straight-Alliance to help highlight the inclusive nature at St. Josephine.

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