The Groton Community – Online Edition

After Groton transitioned to online classes, many students feared that we will not be able to maintain the community that we all enjoy. However, from my siblings and my own experience at Stanford Online High School (Stanford OHS), I know that we can keep the closeness and togetherness of the Groton community online.

My sister and brother both graduated from Stanford OHS. I also took my math classes there in the seventh and eighth grades. Stanford OHS is a small independent school with exciting clubs, a rich community, and great teachers. Their classes are similarly sized to Groton’s and also revolve around frequent discussions and active participation through Adobe Connect. Classes are completely synchronous (meaning all students are on the platform at the same time), with students and teachers on mic and camera. Besides the fulfilling learning experience, my siblings have made some of their closest friends at Stanford OHS and remain very close to them today. 

So how was this possible if we only interacted with peers online?

Yes, it is true that Groton students will not make the same memories this spring as they would by seeing each other around campus, but there are many ways to supplant this interstitial time that means so much to all of us. At Stanford OHS, there are many Skype groups that students make for classes. Students often have long chats asking questions or just talking about random things. People will often Skype each other within these groups, and sometimes there are fun movie nights online.

Stanford OHS is proof that it is possible for a high school to have a strong community even while completely online. Groton has an inherent advantage: we already know our community thrives in person. All that remains is keeping it alive online. 

To some extent, a lot of what helps Stanford OHS foster a great community is the attitude of the students. Everyone is very kind and open to trying new things. They want to have a rich community and really take it upon themselves to create one. It is very important to keep this idea in mind. Groton students are just as capable of making a great community for themselves online. Again, Groton has the significant advantage of only having to maintain and develop an already rich community, unlike Stanford OHS where it had to be built from the ground up.

Although we find ourselves in a bizarre and often anxiety-inducing situation, it is important that we make the best of it, as Andrew Mazza ’20 said in the first virtual student Chapel Talk. If we can keep an open mind and a positive attitude, we can maintain the community that we all enjoy. It may be a little rocky, difficult, and perhaps frustrating at first, but we need to remember that it is possible. Stanford OHS shows us this. We might have to put in a little extra effort to invest in the community, but it will pay off. We also may need to be a little creative. Maybe we could have a conference via Zoom after classes? People could just drop into a Zoom room and chat (maybe even with their own homemade cookies on hand!). Facetime can also work wonders.  Mostly, we just have to get excited about finding creative ways to feel more connected.

So when you are feeling discouraged and upset about what we are doing, remember that we are a strong community together. If we all work hard together to make our school thrive online, we can make it just as great as if we were all physically on the Circle together.