Every April, students and faculty gather on the Alamo Lawn to cheer on those who showcase their hidden talents during the Jubilee festival. They sit on warm blankets, traverse from art cafe gallery to performances, wait in line for cotton candy, and take pictures with friends at the photo booth. This year, however, this gathering happened on Zoom instead.
“Jubilee is a long standing tradition at Webb,” said Romana Quick, International Student Program Coordinator. “It’s one of the final events to close out the school year, bringing faculty, students and families together, to continue supporting the arts and music at Webb! Virtual Jubilee was just another extension of our supportive community.”
At Webb, members of the community celebrate creativity in a variety of outlets. From the winter dance show and Candlelight Concert to courses like Arts Collision during Unbounded Days, music and art at Webb testify to Unbounded Thinking, the ability to “think boldly, mindfully and creatively,” as stated in the mission statement. Besides engaging in rigorous academic and athletic programs, students use music and creativity to relax and challenge themselves, and Jubilee is the best time of the year when different art, music, dance, and poetic talents come together. It is how Webb showcases its talent.
“I participated [in Jubilee] because I love performing but I can’t do any Webb plays due to sports [commitments], so I found this as a fun opportunity,” said Katie Arzate (‘23).
“I participated because Jubilee is one of my favorite events at Webb!” said Emily Wang (‘22).
This year, with the COVID-19 outbreak, Webb is experiencing many unprecedented challenges. Spring sports fell victim to closures, juniors faced difficulties to continue the regular college application schedule, seniors were no longer able to enjoy the regular graduation events, and asynchronous students had to adjust to schedule changes, as well as time differences when learning remotely. Overall, under drastic changes, maintaining a sense of community presents a huge challenge.
“We also heard that for many of you connecting socially with the Webb community is the major loss you feel,” wrote Theresa Smith, Assistant Head of Schools, in an email. “While it’s not the same, we do want to highlight some of the wonderful programming coming up to help us all stay connected. We have included our upcoming We are Webb programming in our revised planner pages and will continue to post updates on Student News.”
With the transition to remote learning, many community events took place online, seeking to connect students and faculty members together. Although the experiences of real life performances are undoubtedly irreplaceable, the Mamma Mia! musical, spring concert, as well as the Chamber Singers’ performance were online successes. With that in mind, Jubilee hoped to follow in line with the same similar experience.
“I think that the difference [between virtual and real life Jubilee] is that with virtual Jubilee, you can’t really see people’s reactions,” said Katie. “And it’s a little harder doing it with friends.”
“The atmospheres are very different,” said Kevin Quick, Alamo Dorm Head, and Mrs. Quick. “We missed having the energy from participants as well as attendees and of course sharing the music and meal too!”
“We faced the challenge of having to encourage students to submit recordings,” said Mr. Quick. “And there could be potential technological challenges either with recording or computer connections.”
Despite these challenges, members of the dorm prefects, ISL, and art club worked together and coordinated the preparation experiences.
“The preparation for Jubilee was quite different,” said Jackson Malicay (‘21). “Instead of the normal tasks and getting the prefects to move furniture and setting up the sound board, this year we had to do the opposite of most and really advocate and ask for people to submit videos…In the end, we had two full hours of video performances, of all different genres and types of performances. I would just like to thank everyone that helped and supported me in getting the program together and to everyone that showed up and submitted videos, all of your comments and appreciation mean a lot and makes it worth whiles. Special Thanks to Dr. Dzula, Mr. and Mrs. Quick, Nicole Chen and Johnny Zhang.”
Through a lot of extra hours and hard work, the virtual Jubilee became a reality and turned out to be a success with 65 participants on the first night and 32 on the second. Participants were able to use the Q&A feature to shout out to the performers, which increased the interactivity.
“The virtual Jubilee was better than expected,” said Mr. Quick. “Initially, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough submissions, but in the true Webb way everyone pulled through!”
“I really enjoyed Jubilee because even though I could not see any of my student counterparts or teachers, it still gave me a good time to know many of you were watching,” said Jackson. “Jubilee really strengthened the community because in these times when we are getting cabin fever and want to just leave the confines of our rooms, all it takes to brighten up a day or offer something to help fill that down time, with performances by students and teachers. It also gives a sense of normality because it’s what we would have been doing, most of the campus would’ve been at jubilee, and it gave any seniors a last chance to show off their talents to the community.”
Through virtual Jubilee, members of the community saw students and faculty members perform online. Besides students, the Admission office, Fawcett Library team, and faculty families have all continued the tradition of faculty performances and put together interactive video performances to replicate the experience.
“I really liked how the teachers and their kids also made their videos,” said Katie. “Because it was cute and showed Webb’s fun community.”
“Overall it was fun and I really appreciate the people who put in effort to make this happen!” said Emily. “I am really grateful that we can still be together as a community (in a safe distance) to support each other and to appreciate the hard work that people put in to prepare for their performances!”
“I think the virtual Jubilee really shows that Webb is trying its best to have a sense of community and connection even when people can’t meet each other,” said Jessica Huang (‘22). “Although my friend and I are very far away from each other because of the quarantine, I still feel connected with my friends when we see each other performing in the Jubilee.”
Across counties, states, and time zones, the virtual Jubilee was a great opportunity to strengthen the Webb community during these difficult times by reminding us all of the important values at Webb: unbounded thinking and a family-like environment.
NOTE: Dr. Mark Dzula is the adviser to the Webb Canyon Chronicle and helped facilitate the production of virtual Jubilee.
Check out highlights from virtual Jubilee below.