GERVAIS — The pandemic has not dampened students’ enthusiasm for learning at Sacred Heart School here. The year began with limited in-person learning and evolved from there according to state guidelines. If anything, emerging from months of distance learning has made students and staff that much prouder of the school.

“I am going to a Catholic school this year because every other school that is near me is doing online school,” reflected Zerrell Stoops on her eighth grade year at Sacred Heart.

Zerrell is serving as student body president. Candidate speeches for the first time were video recorded and played for an eager audience in each socially distanced classroom. Sacred Heart School stands out this year, also, for having elected an all-girl student council.

“I’m an eighth grader this year, so I only get one amazing year here. I wish I could have been here years before today. But even if I can’t come back next year, I still love this school and everyone in it,” said Zerrell. “I hope lots of kids get the same experiences that I did.”

“This is my first (and last) year at Sacred Heart and I haven’t been this excited to go to school since kindergarten,” said fellow eighth grader Keely Emch.

When the annual Christmas program was canceled because of the pandemic, each class recorded songs distributed them to families on CDs. An accomplished flutist, Keely accompanied her class on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”“Ever since I’ve gotten here, I’ve felt a lot more accepted and free, and everyone is a lot more forgiving at Sacred Heart,” said Keely. “They have literally the nicest staff members and students I’ve ever gotten the chance to learn with.”