The start of spring break in a boarding school community is a celebratory event. Students and adults in much need of a break typically span the globe for adventure and relaxation for a defined period of time, with the confidence that their home-away-from-home, New Hampton School, will be ready to welcome them back for the memorable spring season.
As the world wrestles with COVID-19, New Hampton School, like everyone else, is dealing with a very different set of variables. Our campus is eerily quiet. Students are rightfully home safe with their families. Faculty are experiencing a different kind of break as they begin the process of preparing for distance learning. At the same time, administrators and staff continue their work remotely through our video conferencing technology.
Assessing a new experience
Through it all, we retain that special Husky Pride and optimism, along with the belief that this experience will make us a better school. We are thinking creatively about how we deliver curriculum virtually, with an eye for how this can make the physical class experience more meaningful when students return. How we assess what students know and can demonstrate is something we are always examining. Our faculty are now eager to experiment with a range of strategies to help our students engage with course material and demonstrate their mastery. We hope to see this tap into hidden skill sets and build confidence and enthusiasm for the learning process.
Our “class day” will take on an entirely new look as we meet the needs of students in different time zones and countries. Gone are the restraints imposed by a traditional evening study hall—which our students likely won’t miss—and a co-curricular program of athletics and arts, that we know will be sorely missed by all. It could be that classes in the evening are something we want to hold onto, that “homework” looks very different in the future, and where the important co-curricular experiences fall is re-examined, but never lost.
Building relationships, sharing moments
Above all else, we are thoughtfully planning for how we continue to deliver on the most value-added aspect of our community—deep and meaningful relationships. Whether it is that trusted adult, important peer group, team, advisory group, or roommate, we know these are things our students and adults will be missing the most and that we need to incorporate into our plans. We are committed to staying in touch with our students and parents in the distinctive ways that provide support, growth, connection, and reflection that we believe will foster a greater appreciation for what the physical experience of being a New Hampton student provides.
Some shared experiences can be recreated virtually for the time being. While others, an exciting softball or lacrosse game, Sunday brunch in the dining hall, hanging out in the DP with friends, prom, and potentially Commencement, we recognize can’t be replaced.
Redefining “All In”
Amidst all the disappointment, the thing that lifts my spirits the most are the comments from our students who desperately miss Husky Nation and are sending suggestions for how we can stay connected as a community, despite our physical separation.
Husky Nation remains All In as we take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during this time of uncertainty in the world. We look forward to the return of community and the renewed appreciation and commitment to each other that we know will follow.