Ninth-graders gathered on the Harvard-Westlake (HW) campus March 3 for Flex Day activities, marking their first in-person meeting since last March when the coronavirus shutdown hit schools. Previously, new and returning ninth graders convened through virtual events like Among Us get-togethers, Kahoots and LinkU events. Many students were elated to return to campus after a year-long break.
“I was excited to visit the campus after a year of quarantine,” Isaac Tiu ‘24 said. “I could not wait to meet new classmates and experience the campus in all its glory.”
The event was broken up into two sessions – one from 9 to 11 a.m. and the other from 1 to 3 p.m to ensure students could remain socially distanced. An online version was provided for those who felt unsafe coming to campus.
Safety was ensured throughout the event. Students gathered in groups of no more than 10 people and remained socially distanced. Furthermore, students were required to complete a health screening to ensure they had not traveled outside of California or displayed any unusual symptoms. As students came to campus, they had their temperatures checked and were handed a high-quality KN95 mask to wear throughout the session.
Several fun activities were planned for the day. As a sign of HW’s continued appreciation for frontline workers, students wrote and decorated notes of gratitude to a frontline worker of their choice, including healthcare workers, firefighters, police officers, grocery employees, and mail carriers. Students also spent time socializing and playing lawn games like tic-tac-toe, cup pong and bean bag toss. To top it all off, students were handed snacks including HW’s famous fruit smoothie!
New ninth-grader, Natalie Lim ‘24, shared her account of the joyous experience. “I had a great time at yesterday’s Flex Day,” Lim said. “I enjoyed meeting new friends and getting to know the rest of the ninth grade class. I am so thankful for the faculty and staff at Harvard-Westlake who have worked to make this possible.”
Returning students shared this point of view. “It was really nice to reconnect with old friends and get to enjoy the campus after a full year,” Sophie Shabani ‘24 said.
Administrators were equally excited about the success of the event. “I enjoyed getting to see students on campus, making new friends, and reconnecting with old ones,” Ninth Grade Dean Karen Fukushima said. “The Flex Day was great for getting a feel of the campus, especially for new students at HW who visited for the first time since their admissions interview.”
Overall, the success of the Flex Day is a positive sign as students and teachers embark upon their return to campus starting March 9. It is a communal hope that all members of the HW community will be able to meet under safe circumstances in the near future.