On Friday, April 17, Head of School Tom Dillow announced that school would be closed for the remainder of the semester. Despite the challenges of moving the community online, Student Government and school administrators are finding creative ways online to help students connect with each other.
English teacher and Student Government Association (SGA) Advisor Mela Frye said that junior president Sadie Margolis and junior senator Sloan Duvall spoke to her about many ideas for online social events. After sharing their ideas with Mrs. Frye, Sloan and Sadie started what they called “KOrona Activities.”
Sadie and Sloan took the initiative to plan and facilitate the events in order to create an environment where members of the community feel more connected and for students to connect with a larger group of friends. “We both found that we were only connecting with a small group of friends,” Sloan said, “so we wanted to widen everyone’s stream of friends during online school.”
Sadie agreed that fostering connections was the main goal. “We are a part of SGA, and we really want to make a community not only on campus but also online,” she said. “We wanted to create a sense of normalcy going into online learning and we wanted to spread positivity and have more face to face connections.”
In its first week, there were four activities per week. These included a Netflix party, a bake-along with Administrative Coordinator Lindsay Perkins, bring-your-pet-to-school day, and a trivia night. According to Sloan and Sadie, trivia night recorded the highest attendance with over 30 people. “Overall it was a really fun night,” Sadie said.
During the second week of distance learning, school administrators started online co-curriculars, which are live events during the school day. Sloan and Sadie decided to limit the activities to all-day events, such as spirit days and after school events. “We had a bit more stuff going on before they started the co-curriculars,” Sloan said. “After the co-curriculars started, they kind of took over all the workouts and stuff during the school day.”
Junior Brandon DeLucia attended the Netflix party. “It’s nice to see Student Government fulfilling their role and making an effort to try to improve all of our lives right now,” he said.
One of the most popular co-curriculars is Mrs. Perkins’s cooking classes. Mrs. Perkins is well known in the community for her extensive culinary background. She went to Connecticut Culinary Institute and specialized in pastry and baking. After doing a nine-month internship at Truffles Bakery in Farmington, she decided to work there because she enjoys making food and working in the hospitality industry. Head of the Upper School Daniel Gleason reached out to her to ask her to run a co-curricular because of her background.
Mrs. Perkins was excited to run her classes, as she enjoys cooking and helping people learn to cook. “Learning life skills is just as important as learning algebra, to a certain extent,” she said. “Learning how to cook [is important] and making healthier food for yourself instead of eating junk.”
Her Monday class is a cooking demo, or a cooking show. Viewers can watch Mrs. Perkins cook and teach skills. One week, she made sweet potato hash and showed viewers how to peel sweet potatoes. Her Wednesday classes are cook or bake-alongs, which she says are her most popular class. She posts ingredients online a week before, and students make the recipe with her. Mrs. Perkins is trying to make recipes with common household pantry items to limit her viewers’ trips to the grocery stores. On Fridays, she teaches a cooking challenge, where she lists ingredients for a recipe and talks students through the process of making the food.
Brandon enjoys watching Mrs. Perkins’ 30-minute cooking classes. “It’s a nice activity where we can do something beyond school, be casual and still interact with other people in the school community,” he said. “I really like Mrs. Perkins’s enthusiasm and that she brings a lot to these meetings.”
Mrs. Perkins likes that she can teach her cooking and baking classes on Zoom, an online video conferencing platform that many KO teachers use for their classes; it allows her to interact with her viewers. “The fact that it’s on Zoom and I can see them, it’s awesome,” she said. “The instant feedback is what I like about that.”
The cooking classes are growing in popularity; however, Mrs. Perkins wants to make sure that everyone in the community knows where to find all co-curriculars, as some students and parents are having trouble finding them. To avoid lower participation in co-curriculars, Mrs. Perkins posts a schedule with links to all co-curriculars on the Daily Bulletin. “Whether you are doing a cooking class or workout with Coach Brad, I just want to make sure that students know how to access this information,” she said. “And the parents because sometimes they don’t know where to find this information either.”
Sloan and Sadie also faced similar challenges. The second week of KOrona activities was Spirit Week, which included beach day, class color day, pajama day, tie-dye day, and spring sports gear day. Sloan and Sadie said that participation was not as high as they wished, which could be due to the challenges of social distancing. Sloan spoke about the challenges of choosing winners for each day. “At school, anyone we see on campus we can take pictures and enter,” Sloan said. “But for this, we only have our classes so it really relies on other people sending us pictures.”
Both the schedules for SGA’s KOrona activities and the co-curriculars can also be found in emails sent by Mrs. Perkins every morning.