After staring at Zoom calls for eight and a half hours a day, MSMS students must turn to various virtual platforms in order to stay in touch with their classmates. While seniors can’t see their friends, juniors haven’t even met each other. However, though meeting others in person is no longer an option, it doesn’t make communication less meaningful. Unfortunately, online communication is far from ideal.
“I don’t really like getting to know everyone virtually,” junior Madeline Raynor said. “I feel like I can’t become close with my new classmates like I wish I could. I don’t feel like I can truly get to know anyone over texts or FaceTime calls.”
Though frustrating, communication still holds necessary value. Many students believe that staying connected through social media platforms possesses crucial importance to not only their success, but their mental and emotional health as well.
“It’s very important for students to interact with each other. In the midst of quarantine, it can get really lonely, so having the ability to talk to people around you can have drastic effects on your overall happiness,” junior Vineeth Vanga said.
Raynor agrees that staying in contact with her friends has positively influenced her success and motivation during this unexpected period of online learning.
“It’s very important to keep in touch with your friends and classmates to thrive in online classes. I feel like if I didn’t have the friends at MSMS that I made over social media, I couldn’t handle the classes I’m in,” Raynor said. “The friends in my classes are part of what keeps me motivated and happy during online school, and I would feel so lonely and isolated from everyone else if I wasn’t able to make friends online.”
Outside of virtual classes, juniors have turned to a multitude of virtual platforms to stay in touch with their friends and classmates. Popular platforms include Snapchat, Instagram, GroupMe, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Discord.
“The main platform that I use, which is kind of like a communal space, would be Discord because that’s what the majority of the students are on,” junior Keyan Rahimi said.
However, even this in-person alternative space lacks perfection.
“Things are a bit more awkward online. Some people are not exactly sure how to find these servers, and it’s a supplement for physically meeting people, so it is a bit awkward,” Rahimi said.
“Things still get lonely when you can’t interact with people face to face like we used to,” Vanga said.
Some students also worry that they aren’t getting the full MSMS experience. Uncertainty over the timing of move-in has led many to feel as though they are missing out on the preparation for college and social life MSMS offers.
“The biggest issue is definitely not being there to get the college experience, because MSMS is meant to prepare you for college. A big chunk of that is taken away since you’re not actually in a dorm room with other people,” Rahimi said.
“I heard MSMS had a very close knit community of people on campus, and while I still feel parts of that at home, nothing can beat the experience of seeing your fellow classmates face to face,” Vanga said.
Although some students are quite disappointed about having to meet all of their classmates through social media platforms, other students are grateful just to have this opportunity.
“I would say I have kind of a strange opinion on this,” Rahimi said. “Most people are very upset about it, but I’m happier that the internet offers the platforms that we use to stay in touch.”
Junior Reagan Ishee also feels grateful for these social media platforms. Even though online school is stressful, she feels happy that students still have a way to communicate.
“It makes me realize I’m not alone, and that even though we can’t see each other face- to-face, there are still different ways to connect and help each other when we’re struggling.”
Seniors and alumni are some of the people offering help to their juniors. Not only do they provide support and build rapport, but they also make this virtual experience bearable.
“A lot of the seniors help out quite a lot. If we have any questions we can go to them, and they’re handling it really smoothly,” said Rahimi.
Raynor agrees. “These platforms help me get to know the seniors, alumni, and especially my emissary, who are all incredibly helpful in advising me and helping me adjust,” she said.
Online classes have also helped students adjust to MSMS’ coursework, resulting in a smoother transition for some juniors.
“Honestly, in a way, online learning was the best way for me to get into the groove of this school and the way it runs,” Ishee said. “I’m less distracted by my social life, and I can focus more on my academics and start my two years at MSMS strong. I can get used to the workload before I put a lot of work into building a new social life with new people.”
Students at MSMS are all coping with the socially-distanced learning environment by staying in touch with one another. Even though everything is online, juniors are utilizing social media and online platforms to meet their classmates from afar. There are many concerns about how the year will proceed and whether juniors will ever get a regular MSMS student life, but everyone is making an effort to keep in touch and support one another through whatever means necessary.
“It’s important that we don’t become too isolated in front of our computers and muted on zoom calls,” Ishee says. “We have to remember that we’re still part of this MSMS family and community, even if we didn’t get a traditional introduction.”