Hybrid awkwardness & community

December 15, 2000

For me, the hardest part of hybrid school is not feeling connected to my friends. It is so hard to see someone and not be able to run up and talk to them, or give them a hug if I missed them. My 1-year-ago Snapchat memories have been popping up on my phone, and it’s hard to watch the whole school at the pep rally, videos of dancing at hoco, and just videos of me and my friends. I understand how necessary all the precautions are. It’s just sad to look back and see how different everything is.   – Natalie Barber, 11th grade

When I got back to school, I found that not everyone was taking the new guidelines to heart. Of course, we’ve all seen photos of our peers’ unfortunate parties and maskless get-togethers, but seeing people blatantly ignoring safety procedures on campus hit different. I saw collections of people from all grades (mostly underclassmen, but still), clustering together, doing whatever they could to sidestep rules that had been put in place for their safety. Teachers are stretched so thin lately that they didn’t even notice, but those of us who haven’t seen our closest friends for months, myself included, were and are disgusted.   – Parker Hollendoner, 12th Grade

Hybrid is a lot more, but I’ve really enjoyed it. The first day I went in, I had to wake up earlier, but I still felt like I had much more energy than usual because of the excitement I had to finally be in person. Packing a lunch is something I have to get used to, and something I almost forgot my first day. The schedule is nice, with a lot of stress-free time built in. It also makes me much more motivated to do homework when I get back, because I’m not at home all day.   – Johan Shattuck, 11th grade

Coming back to school is a bittersweet feeling. I am happy that Friends has the resources to allow their students to come to campus, but there are still many things that cannot go back to the way they were. Being able to walk down the hallway and saying hi to friends we don’t see outside of school is something I used to take for granted. Now that I can’t hug friends I haven’t seen in a while, or eat lunch with someone not in my advisory, I miss real school more than I did during online school. I guess it feels like a tease to have us come back but not be able to do anything that made school enjoyable.   – Sophia Kessenich, 12th grade

All of the classrooms and tents are pretty big, and there are not that many people in my classes, so I can see everyone. I have two classes where the teacher is virtual, and in those it feels like we are all experiencing the same thing. When the screen freezes, we all sigh. When the teacher talks too quietly, we all lean forward in our seats. There were a few technological challenges in my Java class, where the teacher is virtual, and everyone was worried we would miss important information. When everything was sorted out, I could feel the relief ripple through the room.   – Kaya Banerjee, 9th grade

Soccer practice has been pretty similar in covid, but we have to wear masks while we play. I walk down to the field around 3:30, take my sweatshirt off, and take my pants off (since we don’t have a place to change anymore, I wear my soccer shorts under my pants). I put my cleats on, and change my mask to one meant for athletics. As we wait for the coach, my teammates and I joke about random topics. We were really disappointed when we found out that we were only going to have one game. I miss the trips to different schools, where the bus would be loud and rowdy, bumping hype music. I miss banter in the locker room before home games. I miss playing – even though I sat on the bench most of the time. This game coming up feels meaningless, since there isn’t anything at stake. Now we just play so we can feel like we had one last game.   – Alex Scharff, 12th grade

I have not been to school as a part of hybrid learning. It is hard to feel like part of the class when I’m on Zoom and almost everyone else is at school, mostly because it’s hard to hear. But I feel like the teachers are trying very hard, and are always trying to find ways to make me feel included.   – Warren Scott, 9th grade

Peering through the side door of the Meetinghouse, I witnessed Mr. Ratner’s Environmental Literature Class in action. In the middle of the room, which has benches facing inwards on all sides, was a television screen and Owl camera, with white-and-black text dotted over the screen. A distance-learner, projected onto the television screen through Zoom, was talking to the in-person students, who were socially distanced throughout three sides of the meeting house, all facing inward towards her.   – Sam Handwerk, 11th grade

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