Virtual start-of-year prefect events reunites the Webb community

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With the coronavirus spreading its bat-like wings across the world, killing hundreds of thousands, many school and work events have been switched to online via ZoomGoogle Meet, or other types of video conferencing platforms. The world’s reliance on web-based interfaces has caused digital technologies to be constantly modified and improved, supporting the global demand. 

In late July, Taylor Stockdale, Head of Schools, and Theresa Smith, Assistant Head of Schools, announced to the entire Webb community that Webb would begin the school year online. All classes, start-of-year orientation, afternoon activity meetings, and school events will be conducted via Zoom until Webb and the LA County of Public Health decide on when schools, institutions, and other public crowded areas will reopen again. 

Though online meetings and events present more challenges to keeping everyone engaged, the prefect council developed many great ideas for what start-of-year social events should look like, ensuring that these events are fun and appealing to  the student body.  

Traditionally, prefects would host the Welcome Back Dance on the first weekend of school, but it had to be modified this year. Nonetheless, this did not deter the prefects and they still managed to create fun and innovative virtual weekend events that provided a relief for students from the stressful first week of school.  

“It was definitely harder to plan the events since communication online takes more time and could cause confusion,” said Alice Phung (‘21), a day student prefect. “However, an upside of switching to online was the ability to hold Zoom meetings with the entire prefect council and coming up with ideas together!” 

In particular, one prefect group held a skribbl.io event where students were put into breakout rooms and got to play the skribbl.io online game with one another. Students tested both their drawing and guessing skills through a series of fun, competitive rounds where one student draws, and other students try to guess the drawn picture to earn points.  

“I had a lot of fun during the weekend events even though they were online and not in the most ideal conditions,” said Jaydyn Akpengbe (‘22). “I really liked how we were put into small groups, as that gave me the opportunity to interact with my friends and get to know those whom I’m not super familiar with. I just wished there were more people that came to the skribbl.io event.” 

Although not many people attended the Saturday evening skribbl.io game, the Mafia event led by Jake Baiz (‘21) and Kalman Dong (‘22) was a fan favorite. Students got the chance to test out their acting skills as they masked their identities to convince their classmates they were innocent. 

“Overall, it was very challenging to plan the first online event over zoom,” said Kalman, “But my group came through and hosted a really fun event with lots of people participating. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.” 

Although many of this year’s new students never got the traditional Webb campus tour, the prefects decided to supplement this using Jonathan Liu’s (‘23) Minecraft replica of Webb to showcase different parts of the campus. 

I believe the online format is allowing students to be more innovative in creating events through new technological mediums, said Michael Martinez (‘21), a head dorm prefect. “It also helps introduce the faculty to new forms of entertainment that most likely wouldn’t have been featured in normal school events.  

Though students are missing life on campus, Webb created an event to remind students the excitement of designing their dorm rooms and parking spaces. This event waa drawing contest where students were encouraged to design their dream dorm or parking spot. The participants were instructed to fill out a blank template however they so choose. Those who participated in this contest have the chance to win gift cards. This contest not only helped the students come together and remember the campus, but also gave them an opportunity to step away from their computer and use a part of their brain that they don’t often use. 

Even though this year’s start-of-year events were hosted via Zoom, the prefect council still pulled off an amazing weekend, developing many creative and exciting events for Webb studentsIt is also important to remember that without Zoom or any other video conferencing platform, hosting these events would not be possible.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the advancement of technologies to resemble a physical environment. It is wonderful to see how much fun people are having with these online weekend events, and we can all hope that, sooner or later, we can reunite and live life like how it was before the pandemic.