Including New Students in a Virtual Classroom

On a normal first day of school, new students would usually be thinking about what lunch table to sit at, but this year has been extremely different for everyone. Unable to go to school and meet their peers in person, many new students are making friends in some unique ways. While the teachers have made some effort to create interaction between students, many students have a disdain for breakout rooms and group projects due to the “awkwardness” of the situation.

Many HW students have noticed the different group projects and assignments being given by teachers. In science, students have noticed a lot more partnered work in labs, and in Spanish, there has been an uptick in the amount of group work and projects assigned. More and more teachers have also begun to use the “breakout room” feature in Zoom to allow for students to do work together without an adult involved. Although this sounds like a nice addition and feature, there are a few problems with it.

“One problem I’ve noticed is that a lot of kids will just turn their cameras off and mute when put into breakout rooms,” Jake Lancer ‘24 said. “I think that if a teacher is trying to have people work together and then throw them into a breakout room where no one talks, it doesn’t accomplish anything.”

Although many teachers are trying, it is not always effective so many other times when people meet come from both the student council and athletic practices.

“We’ve tried a ton of different events, such as Zoom events, LinkU events, and “Among Us” events,” student senator Davis Marks ‘24 said in an interview. “I’d say what’s worked the best so far is the “Among Us” events we’ve hosted. In the “Among Us” events, we put students in breakout rooms where they can talk and play the video game “Among Us”. We’ve gotten really great feedback and we plan to host even more because of the success.”

“Among Us” is a multiplayer game of both teamwork and betrayal where one to two crewmates (known as the impostors) try to kill the rest of the crew before they finish their tasks. Although crewmates stay silent while tasks are being done, they unmute during meetings, when they try to figure out who the impostor is and vote them out. If the crewmates die before the impostor is discovered, the impostor wins. In the last few months, “Among Us” has gained a lot of traction due to the different experiences that happen every game.

“I’ve gone to the “Among Us” one and the LinkU one, but I liked the “Among Us” one the best,” new student Cutter East ‘24 said. “It gave us an activity to do and focus on together and helped us collaborate as well as focus on a game while being more comfortable with each other.”

Although kids have not been able to return to school for learning, many sports teams have been able to keep practicing. This has been a great way for new students to meet people, as everyone on the team has a common interest in the sport. Although practicing sports may seem dangerous in a pandemic, the health and safety precautions taken by the school have been strict and prevented the spread of the virus.

“We are taking many precautions such as everyone is required to keep their masks on for the entirety of practice,” baseball player Sammy Glassman ‘24 said.

Athletes are also required to fill out a health survey everyday and temperature is taken before practice to be extra cautious. Although this may sound like a lot of precautions for a two-hour practice, new students have found sports an extremely fun and safe way to meet new classmates in person.

When it comes to new experiences and events to introduce students, student council has some more ideas planned for the future. All and all the school has made a solid effort to incorporate new students, whether it be through mixer events held by student council, an influx of group projects, or sports practices.

“We’re definitely planning even more types of events just because the current situation of having a ton of new students but no physical contact requires as many events as possible to host just so everyone gets to meet each other and make some new friends,” Marks said.

It is without a doubt that the efforts of so many in the HW community are resulting in the relatively successful integration of new students. From the athletic directors to the teachers to the student council, everyone is trying their hardest to make this year as normal as possible for new students. That being said, every HW student still dreams of the day when they can toss the football around the commons, hang out by the library, and even just ride the bus home from school. The solutions made have been great, but nothing can replace the true on-campus experience.

Leave a Reply