Creating Community in Virtual Poly

Maintaining a sense of community is vital during Virtual Poly.

Middle and Upper School clubs, Assembly, Community Time, and Virtual Coffeehouse foster a sense of community, along with Lower School special days like Poly Blue Day, Fancy Scarf or Tie Day, and Green Day for Earth Month. Other activities continue, like rehearsals of the Middle School musical and the student-run newspaper The Polygon, which the staff is publishing online from home. Student elections were held and a new president, vice president, and spirit captains were welcomed. Each group is weighing in on how things are going, and what challenges have been encountered along the way—and defeated. Most important, Poly is continuing to be what it always has been: a community.

“I think the most important piece of the community time options is the opportunity for students to connect with one another in a non-academic setting, similar to when we were on campus,” said Dean of Student Life Alex Davis, adding that they need to be “created more purposefully for them to be successful.”

In the midst of Virtual Poly, rehearsals for the Middle School musical Matilda continue. “We rehearse twice per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4 PM,” said MS drama teacher Jill Bolstridge. “I was surprised by how much the kids loved rehearsing online. I was worried they were going to lose interest., but it’s been the opposite. We took some time off from rehearsals when we found out the quarantine was going to be longer than expected, in order to find new software to help us sing in unison. And during the weeks we didn’t have rehearsal, all the kids and parents were emailing us, begging us to start virtual rehearsals again. When we sent out the new rehearsal schedule, announcing the restart of virtual rehearsals, we got emails from parents saying their kids shrieked with joy when they saw my email.”

Middle School students rehearse Mathilda virtually.

“Across Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School, affinity and alliance groups continue in Virtual Poly, ” said Motoko Maegawa, Director of Diversity, Equity and Social Justice. “Lemonade and Umoja are just a couple examples of the many that are still meeting during Virtual Poly.”  

Virtual Poly Lemonade

Co-presidents of Lemonade Emmalee Burford ’20 and Kayla White ’20 reported that “Lemonade has been meeting weekly during the designated time for affinity/alliance groups. We also have an Instagram account, @lemonade.blackgirlaffinity, where we keep our followers updated on our meetings. Recently, we have posted the college commitments of girls who identify as black in the Class of 2020. Every Friday for 45 minutes we hold discussion-based meetings on different topics that correlate to the black community. From discussing the racism black people are currently facing in China and the role we can play to help them, to talking about the racism and cultural appropriation intertwined with certain Tik Tok trends, we aim to provide a safe community where black-identifying females can come together and take their minds off the chaos we currently live in. We believe that despite not being able to gather together physically and express our opinions in one room, it is still important to provide a safe and open space for black girls. It is important to celebrate ourselves and our accomplishments regardless of the circumstances that have been placed upon us. We are still a community even though we cannot physically be together.”

A smooth transition of Student Government occurred in Virtual Poly. “Our role has been primarily to make sure that information gets to the students as much as possible and to argue for student interests surrounding Senior Plan, Commencement, and end-of-year awards,” said outgoing Vice President Molly O’Connor ’20. “Our Instagram has been very successful in accomplishing our first goal, and President Bailey Chapin ‘20 and I have been in countless meetings to try and work with the administration to find out solutions for our second. Another big part of the virtual student government experience for us was to end our terms as President and Vice President and help Dean of Student Life Ms. Davis and the candidates during the elections. We have worked hard all year to fight for the student body, and even though our last month or so in office was challenging, we got through it and are excited to see where our newly elected president, vice president, and spirit captains take student government in the future.” 

Math teacher Stephen Bates gave everyone in the community a smile by producing two “Poly Misses You!” videos. “I figured Poly has an amazing teaching team from Lower to Upper School,” said Bates, “and an administration and staff that cares about every member of the community—why not show the parents, students, and each other how much everyone is missed? Needless to say, the faculty and staff who participated dove into this project wholeheartedly!  I truly enjoy seeing a community come together in times of need like this; it speaks volumes.”