NCS Community Stays Connected Through Summer Virtual Experiences
Even as NCS administration, faculty, and staff wrapped up a challenging and unusual 2019-2020 academic year in June, they felt the school could do still more in support of families during the summer of COVID-19.
NCS launched a program called Summer Virtual Experiences to keep students engaged over break, with faculty and staff leading more than two dozen mini-courses on a range of topics and personal passions.
The courses drew 330 student sign-ups in July and August, for classes on physical fitness, cooking, book clubs, art club, orchestra club, kombucha brewing, a session on the musical “Hamilton,” bullet journaling, Chinese culture, the Galápagos Islands, backyard chickens, digital art and photography, and more. Some groups met weekly, while others spanned only a few days.
Upper School English teacher Tony Speranza, who led cooking and baking classes, said, “The students were fun, willing to ask questions when they needed clarification, and, judging from the photos I received from parents, did a great job cooking and baking.”
Athletic trainer Riho Okamura led an origami class and said, “It was wonderful to interact with students and teach them something new.”
Students, meanwhile, said that the classes not only gave them something to do over the summer but also reconnected them with classmates and teachers. As many of the courses were open to multiple grades, students enjoyed the opportunity to engage with students and faculty from grades other than their own.
One experience joined NCS students with 500 of their peers from around the world in the first virtual version of Felsted School’s Global Studies summer course, which typically takes place in the United Kingdom. The students learned about international relations theory, human rights, environmental rights, justice, cultural diversity, international security, and more.
“Students made friends from around the world, and we met as an NCS cohort throughout the course to share our learning, ask questions, and reflect,” said Director of Global Programs Melody Fox Ahmed.
One student reflected on hearing different perspectives on global issues, particularly on how other countries were responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, other virtual experiences focused specifically on building and maintaining community during an atypical summer. These included lunch bunches for only children and for students with separated or divorced parents.
As NCS prepares to begin the 2020-2021 academic year engaged in remote learning, Summer Virtual Experiences provided a fun and engaging avenue for connection as well as an opportunity for teachers to further hone their skills in remote teaching.