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Inspire Citizens is an educational consulting organization focused on “working with committed partners to reimagine schools as thriving community centers of transformational learning.”
The word “lab” might make you think of a stark white room with glassware holding mysterious bubbling substances, petri dishes, and racks of protective eyewear. But this lab, housed on the SFS campus in the heart of the Middle School, is a completely different kind of space. Equipped for study, experiential learning, and student experimentation: this is VoiceLab.
AQT trains to compete in quiz competitions, in which two teams compete head-to-head to accumulate the most points by answering rapid-fire questions on a wide variety of subjects—ranging from science, history, and literature to pop culture and sports.
2020 has been a year unlike any other, challenging us all in new ways. SFS has been subject to several changes and adaptations as the government has advised different safety measures. At the start of this school year, we went from expecting to welcome all of our students back to campus to quickly needing to change and offering much of our instruction virtually. SFS faculty have shown incredible resilience when challenged with these multiple pivots. Just days before school was set to open with all students on campus, teachers were faced with the challenge of completely shifting their plans from in-person instruction to a hybrid model. The excitement of a new school year was quickly replaced with the disappointment of not being able to meet students and welcome them into classrooms.
The final semester of senior year is bittersweet: students celebrate their accomplishments and enjoy their last weeks together as a class, but also prepare to say goodbye to friends and family to start a new chapter. This year’s class, however, did not get to experience being “second semester seniors” in the way that many students before them have. Instead, the class of 2020 went through a series of pivots, living week-to-week. Clarity around plans for the school year, the summer, and their future in college were all thrown up in the air in the wake of a global pandemic. Even commencement, the ceremonial completion of years of education and a rite of passage for SFS graduates, was in flux. Fortunately, SFS was able to hold an in-person graduation ceremony, complete with cap and gown procession. Everyone was socially distanced and wearing masks, but families were able to gather together and celebrate their graduates. Many other schools around the world were unable to celebrate in this way, and had to hold virtual ceremonies and celebrations.
With their time at SFS behind them, the class of 2020 was faced with uncertainty yet again: what does starting college in the middle of a global crisis look like? These newly minted SFS alumni were faced with ambiguity around freshman year, virtual classes or a hybrid model, moving to a new city and managing quarantine. We got in touch with a few of these students to hear about their experiences navigating the “new normal.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our patience, our humility, and our camaraderie. COVID-19 has taken much from us: most significantly, the tragic loss of life for those who have fallen victim to the disease. Additionally, many
have suffered loss of financial stability, have been isolated from loved ones, had travel plans cancelled, and haven’t been able to leave their homes.
But through the darkness, there have been glimmers of hope, and even joy. For some, staying home has formed stronger familial bonds over game nights and shared meals. Others have reconnected with friends around the world for birthday parties, pub quizzes and happy hours thanks to online connectivity tools like Zoom being normalized. Home cooking has become an art, with amateur bakers and chefs honing their skills, and kitchen cupboards incubating sourdough starters and kombucha.
With these kinds of stories in mind, we asked the faculty and staff of SFS for their “silver linings:” what have been positive results of the COVID-19 cloud?