Pixelated Groton: A Minecraft Schoolhouse

Courtesy+of+Harry+Liao+%2721

Courtesy of Harry Liao ’21

As Covid-19 has upended our school’s typical practice of touring prospective students, a group of Groton students devised a potential response: a Minecraft school. Initially the brainchild of Lucas Zheng ’21, this Minecraft school began purely as an avocational project. But after collaborating with Harry Liao ’21, Roshan Palakkal ’21, Tyler Weisberg ’22, and Noah Bay ’21, the virtual Schoolhouse became more and more realistic. Upon reaching out to Mr. Pomeroy and Mr. Gracey, the students learned that there was a possibility that their project might be used for Revisit day. 

The process in creating the Schoolhouse on Minecraft was difficult. Due to the sheer size of the Schoolhouse, the five students had to take advantage of Minecraft’s developer’s mode, which allows them to copy and paste different parts that were already created. Particularly for Lucas and Harry — all of whom were remote learners this term — recalling details proved to be the biggest hurdle; for almost the entire project, the remote learners had to build purely from memory, oftentimes struggling to nail the precise details. Moreover, due to the limited options of Minecraft’s color schemes, block sizes, and even building material, the students frequently had to improvise in order to make their virtual Schoolhouse look realistic.

“One day over the summer I had to go back to school to empty out Derek’s room, and during that visit I was able to take several photos of different parts of the Schoolhouse which were causing us a bit of trouble,” said Roshan Palakkal ’21. 

Reflecting on their progress, Lucas says that their Minecraft Schoolhouse “is pretty beautiful, especially the views from the forum, the library, and the outside of the Schoolhouse.” 

Their design, however, is still a work in progress. “The basement floor will have to be completed first along with the roof of the Schoolhouse,” Harry added. “If time permits, we will move on to building the chapel and dining hall after laying out the Circle. We might even build the dorms and athletic center, but only if we acquire more manpower.” They are currently seeking out more people to help them build more of Groton’s campus. 

Director of Enrollment Management Cort Pomeroy commented, “I thought it was very impressive — they obviously put a lot of effort into this. The admissions team is very appreciative of their work.” He added that a significant benefit of the Minecraft Schoolhouse is the element of “student-to-student” contact. 

However, the question of licensing remains unclear. Two weeks ago, Harry reached out to Minecraft’s brand team, but the response is still pending. But once there is definitive legal clearance, many new Groton admits will be surprised by an unprecedented Minecraft Revisit day.