Socializing while social distancing



Katey Cotter and friends celebrate Juliana Goodell’s 16th birthday through a Zoom call.

The smell of perfectly buttery and overly salty popcorn perfuming the air of the theater, mixed with the sounds of friends talking excitedly as the movie begins is something a lot of people miss at the moment. The feeling of sitting down with your besties at the Chap Court now brings back nostalgic emotions. Looking back at these memories makes these moments feel as if they were an eternity ago.

“[I miss] just being in each other’s presence,” freshman Cate O’Bryon said. “[It] always made my day brighter.”

Teachers also miss the days where they could teach their students in person.

“I miss being a part of the moments where students make discoveries about being human and being a person, and [now] I don’t get to see that,” theater teacher Meredith Yanchak said. “I miss collaborating with my students in terms of how they create things and the way that [they all] are artists. Being online I don’t get to hear those ideas and see them come to life in the same way I normally do.”

Along with learning becoming virtual, socializing has also become remote for students, many of whom have turned to unique and creative ways to safely spend time with their friends.

“My best friend thought that since she couldn’t get all of her friends physically together, she could Zoom them all at once,” sophomore Katey Cotter said. “I’ve been staying connected through Zoom, an online playing cards game that you and all your friends can connect to and Netflix Party. I Zoom and group FaceTime with my friends probably five times a week.”

Many of these ways to safely socialize have already begun dominating social media, with some of the most popular ways to keep up with friends including Netflix Party, a Chrome extension that allows for multiple people to watch a movie at once while chatting. 

“I really liked Netflix Party because I like to talk during TV shows so it gave me a way to do that,” Katey said. “I’m not sure how many people it [allows to] do a Netflix party at a time, but it’s a lot. It was incredibly easy to set up.”

Drive-by birthdays have also taken the social media world by storm, as they provide a safe way for friends and family to send birthday wishes to those turning a year older during quarantine by driving by the person’s home and usually holding posters or honking. 

“It was a surprise,” freshman Nathan Descheneaux said. “We drove through at 2 p.m., just rolled down the window, honked, waved and said, ‘Happy Birthday!’”

Besides some of these popular ways to spend time with friends while maintaining social distance, students have come up with their own unique and creative adaptations of some of their favorite social activities.

“I miss going to cycling classes with my friends,” Katey said. “Cycling would always be so fun, and the themes made it better. The cycling studio that I like to go to has made virtual classes, and with my cycling bike that I have in my room, I do them. It’s not as fun, but at least I get some cycling. As soon as quarantine is over, the first thing I want to do is go cycling with my best friends.”

In addition, many of these ways to safely interact with friends while quarantining have pleasantly surprised with how easy and fun they were to use.

“It’s easy because there’s not much to schedule around besides school, and it’s fun to see everyone’s lives inside their houses,” Katey said.

However, despite the positive sides of these creative online ways to keep up with friends, there are some challenges to them besides just WiFi glitches. 

“[It’s hard] keeping in touch with those who aren’t your closest friends yet you still love to talk to,” Cate said. 

Having been quarantining for more than a month now, many students dream of the place they most wish to go to once quarantine is over.

“[I want to go] to the climbing gym,” said Nathan. “[I usually went] two or three times a week. [When I climb] I feel calm, happy. I miss all of it.”

Teachers also look forward to the days when they will be able to teach their students in person again.

“[After quarantine I look forward to] doing a show. I will want to do auditions, and get everyone in a rehearsal room again because that’s where the magic happens,” Yanchak said. 

During these difficult times is when one needs their community and school the most. Teachers have strived to make sure they can still connect with their students. Yanchak asks daily check-in questions to her students to connect with them remotely.

“It’s important for us to have that connection and have those goofy conversations,” Yanchak said.  “I like to learn about my students. I like to find common ground with people and those are questions that help us find common ground.”

Although we may all be physically separated, our community can remain just as close and strong as it was before. 

“I think that it has brought us closer because we’re all going through the pandemic together,” Katey said. “We all get to FaceTime and talk every day even if we don’t see each other in person.”