By Chloe Hunt '21
Murder on the Orient Express, a dramatic comedy written by Agatha Christie, will be brought to Fishburn this year. Well, not exactly Fishburn– the winter play will be recorded, and actors will be performing from their homes.
Accomplished director Jess Jones-Gausla, daughter of AP English instructor Polly Jones, took over the winter play this year. In order to best comply with the Covid-19 protocols, she decided that the production be entirely virtual.
“This is the way theatre has kept going during this pandemic while keeping everyone safe. We are doing our part,” Jones-Gausla said. “Doing this show online takes away many aspects of a theatre production, such as being able to work with a scene partner, and the use of the body is very different.”
Jones-Gausla also said that while the circumstances are not ideal, students are learning new skills.
“This necessity to work online does allow for a training that is more akin to a video audition or film work. I have done my best to provide our cast with as much information on how a professional actor works as possible and allowed them all to choose which aspect they will focus on to help themselves grow,” Jones-Gausla said. “This is a difficult year, and I have aimed to make this show both a place to lean into the work required to be part of the theatre industry and a place to have fun and unwind.”
Murder on the Orient Express is certainly a fun show. For students eager to see the production, Jones-Gausla provided a small preview of what to expect.
“This is an exciting tale of a mystery on a train,” Jones-Gausla said. “Students can expect a few tricks and turns, blood, and quite a few screams.”
As a new director at North Cross and an actor herself, Jones-Gausla brings a fresh perspective to the stage and wants to embrace each actor’s nuances.
“As a director, I very much enjoy introducing ideas to the actors and seeing when, if, and how they incorporate these ideas into their work. I am primarily an actor who delves deeply into the study of human life and directing, for me, is a study of that study,” Jones-Gausla said. “I get to see all the perspectives of human life that are not my own and how that plays into the building of a character. My focus this year, more than ever, is to allow the actors to work on what they want to work on, so you will see focuses in many different areas from different actors.”
The cast is composed of veterans of the North Cross stage, but the lead role of the detective, Hercule Poirot, is played by new student, Andrew Dupree ‘21.
Kaeleigh Howlett ‘24, a student since lower school, decided to audition for the winter play after seeing Clue! On Stage last year.
“In the play, I am Michel, Mother, and Radio,” Howlett said. “What prompted me to join was the play last year, Clue.”
Howlett has fostered her love for theatre through musicals over the years.
“At North Cross, this is not my first production. I have done a couple of musicals in the past,” Howlett said. “What inspired my interest in theater was in 5th grade my mother, without me knowing, signed me up for a show at the school. The show was Alice in Wonderland and at first, I did not enjoy it but, then I started to like it, and I fell in love.”
For Howlett, the most exciting part of the play is character development.
“My favorite part about the role is the building of the character,” Howlett said. “I don’t want to spoil anything in the show but each character has a lot of background that is important in the show. Also having to do a French accent is fun.”
In order to strengthen the actors’ accent abilities, Jones-Gausla brought in an acting coach from Los Angeles, Matthew Floyd Miller.
“Many are working with accents, and I was able to bring in an accent coach from LA who was a teacher of mine to provide the actors with the tools needed to do this work,” Jones-Gausla said. “Some are working with multiple characters; some, exploring ages vastly different from their own.”
Chloe Hunt ‘21 who plays Countess Andrenyi thoroughly enjoyed her session with Miller.
“The Hungarian accent is definitely difficult,” Hunt said. “I have not had to do an accent for any of the plays here in the past, so this role is definitely challenging. However, Mr. Miller has really helped me improve and embrace some of the nuances for Slavic accents.”
Phoebe Anderson ‘22, playing Greta and the nanny, likes having the opportunity to work on a new accent as well.
“My favorite part about the role is that I get to practice a Swedish accent,” Anderson said. “ I’ve never done an accent before.”
Overall, the play has been a joy for Jones-Gausla and the cast to put together.
“This group shines brightly as they work and watching these actors bring their characters to life more and more every day is a delight,” Jones-Gausla said. “I am a board to bounce ideas off that sometimes puts up an annoying wall for the cast to work around. They are the show.”
Students can watch the recorded version of the play the last weekend in January. In the meantime, be on the lookout for digital previews.
Tammie Lee ‘21 joined the North Cross community last year. After one year staying at the dorms downtown, she is back at her home in Vietnam.
Adjusting to distance learning can be difficult for anybody, but when balancing a different time zone, it becomes more complicated.
“I would say that it is fun and a bit challenging at the same time because firstly it is about the
time difference between our countries,” Lee said. “To be able to join in classes with other students in America, I have to stay up late at night and sleep when the sun is about to rise in the morning, which was quite tiring to adapt at first. I had to choose to ‘live’ in the time zone of Spain.”
There is an option available for international students to watch class recordings, but Le says the best way to stay motivated is by attending class live.
“You might ask me why I don’t keep my routine like a normal Asian and watch the
recordings to study, it is because I don’t trust myself to be honest,” Le said. “To me, in-person class helps me to study at my best and to be productive all the time, and so if distance learning is unavoidable, I will make myself log on zoom and study with everyone in real time to prevent laziness from taking over me. I only watch the recordings in case I need to revise for quizzes or
I am unable to attend class. Secondly, it is about homework and communication.”
Le acknowledges that it is not as easy to communicate with teachers, but teachers are still available outside of class time.
“Unlike last year, when I was still in America, I could easily stay after class if I have any questions for homework or if I struggle at anything,” Le said. “This year, I have to email them to ask questions or to ask for their free time in order to zoom one on one and talk. It’s not that I cannot ask them straight in class, but sometimes I am afraid to sound stupid in class.”
Throughout the pandemic, Le has fostered hobbies that make quarantine a little less lonely.
“I founded a small organization in July called A Better Bite Project where we create articles and
graphic artworks to give information about food science for people on social media,” Le said. “And because I am the only designer for the organization, I have to work hard for us to meet our target number of articles per month. I never do art without effort, so it usually takes me a long time to finish them.”
“I love baking and cooking for my loved ones, whenever I have time,” Le said. “I also love to go and eat out with my friends because we have many many hot pot and barbecue restaurants here and milk tea stores too.” Le’s love for the kitchen is compounded by an affinity for K-Pop.
“I have a love for Kpop, something that I thought I may have lost when I was in America, when
everyone around me only listens to Rap, RnB, and USUK pop,” Le said. “When I am back in Vietnam, Kpop just naturally came back to me! Not to be too confident, but I believe I have a talent in memorizing Korean lyrics and dances! That is why whenever I listen to music, whether to relax or to study, I always sing along with the songs.”
Le also discussed her routine which requires sleeping during the day.
“A weekday of mine is simple. Since school started, I have gotten used to going to sleep at 7am my time and waking up at around 12 or 1,” Le said. “I will cook myself something to eat and then start to do homework until around 5 or 6pm. Then I will relax for a bit by listening to music and singing, or dancing, or sometimes drawing, and then start studying on Zoom. I usually eat my second meal at break time, between 1st and 2nd period and then keep on studying until 7am. I have also gotten used to eating only 2 meals a day. Sometimes, when I am exhausted, I will go to sleep earlier.”
Le suggested that staying in her room for extended periods of time allows her to work on art, an interest that she hopes to continue in the future.
“Because I am going to study art in the future, about one-third of my homework is about art,
which needs a lot of time and commitment,” Le said, “that is why I spend most of my time in my room to create artworks for school and for my organization.”
By Jessica Palisca '21
Making its debut in 2019, the Fine Arts Distinction Program starts again for the 2020-2021 school year. This program is for people who have a passion for and want to work at a higher level in art. Forms of art include theater, band, chorus, studio art and graphic design and leads to a distinction at graduation. The program is run by art history teacher, Amy Jackson.
Her interest in art sparked in kindergarten, when she won a competition. She did not start pursuing art until her junior year in high school. Jackson majored in studio art at Wake Forest University and then received her master’s in art from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also took many online courses and classes through museums.
The program mirrors the global studies and the STEM programs at North Cross, which include projects and seminars. Jackson said that the program is more than just sitting in a classroom.
“Students have the opportunity to work at a high level in their field” Jackson said, “collaboration is encouraged, students become a part of an arts community and engage with the greater arts community in Roanoke.”
For admission, students express interest during their ninth or tenth grade year at NCS and they have program and seminar requirements, in addition to course work. Over the course of their high school career,students earn 500 points to receive the distinction at graduation. Points can be earned through coursework, activities related to fine arts and attending outside seminars and performances. Other requirements are summer reading, an art-related DeHart project, completing a senior performance or show and a comprehensive program self evaluation.
The five goals of this program are to inspire students in the arts, to strive towards the highest level, encourage students to seek connectedness, promote the fine arts and honor students who have dedicated their time to it. Joining gives students many opportunities, such as traveling, summer internships, volunteer projects, All-District and All-State participation.
Chloe Hunt ‘21, who has been acting since she was five, joined the program last year. She has acted in The Virginia Children's Theatre and Mill Mountain Theatre productions and has interned at Virginia Children's Theatre.
While she does not plan to major in art in college, Hunt hopes to sing in an a capella group in college or do musical theater outside of her course work.
“I like how this program is more fluid than the other distinctions in the sense that art has so many elements.” Hunt said, “In just one of the seminars, I was exposed to poetry and studio art, and I know a lot of the other students produced interesting reflections. Being somebody who does musical theater, I am not as visual or lyrically talented as some of the artists in the program, so it really helps me to learn from them.”
“I think it is really important to stay connected with the arts because it provides a great respite from whatever a given person is dealing with.”
Phoebe Anderson ‘22 , who joined the program last year, focuses on art and writing. “I like that I can express myself without the need for someone being there immediately. It’s nice that I can work on a project, whether it be an artwork or a story, and I can work out all the details before sharing it.”
One of the opportunities she has taken advantage of in the program is the seminars.
“I’ve gotten to go to some interesting seminars, like the Ruth Badger Ginsburg seminar last week. It’s just fun to get other opportunities related to the arts.”
She said she will continue to take art through high school and potentially take art and writing classes in college.
Even though this program is only in its second year, it’s already full of students. The program hopes to expand and stay running for a long time so students continue to have an outlet for their artistic skills.
By Grace Simon '22
Amazing faculty lie at the heart of North Cross. The leader of the Student Council Association (SCA), Susan Wenk, plays a crucial role in the North Cross community. She conducts a leadership program for interested students grades 9-12 after school on B weeks, with the goal that students learn to be the best leaders they can be.
Recently, Wenk was interviewed about the program. “The leadership program is all about the leaders at North Cross School, and we have so many leaders,” Wenk said. “The idea of the leadership program was to talk about what leadership is, what leaders do, and how to become leaders. We had our first program last Thursday and had a special guest speaker, Kennedy Nwabia 15’.”
Wenk made a strong point about Nwabia , who is North Cross alumni when she stated, “He was an amazing leader at North Cross,” Wenk said. Nwabia came here from Nigeria and exemplified leadership by overcoming social barriers and projecting his thoughts to become a leader. Nwabia became extremely involved in the school atmosphere and participated in many sports, one reason he came to North Cross. After North Cross Nwabia attended Dayton University, and transferred to University of Virginia, from where he graduated.
Knowing all the hardships Nwabia had overcome, Wenk felt he would have a big impact on the students. “I brought Kennedy in to talk to all the students who came to the resource period that afternoon to tell what it is like for him to leave his home country, come to the United States as a high school student, how he became so involved at North Cross,” Wenk said. “The experience was good for the students to see leadership comes from you as a person.”
Campbell Neel 22’, current member of the SCA, responded to the Nwabia presentation. “Kennedy was definity very informative being that he had overcome many challenges coming here”, Neel said. “It is also good because the grades don’t ever get to be together.”
By Jessica Palisca '22
The night of Thursday, October 15th was the last home race for the North Cross cross country team. Seniors Daniel Byrnes and Allison Hammond were honored by the coach, Ed Dickenson, before the varsity races started.
“Our first senior is Allison Hammond. She’s been running with us since she was just a tiny little thing and she’s grown with the program,” Coach Dickenson said. “She was that steady, kind person who helped to bring other runners out and keep them motivated. She had some injuries off and on, but she never let that get her down. She always kept coming back, doing her best and setting that great example.”
“I have loved being captain for the past few years” Hammond said, “Watching the younger and new runners make personal records and surpass their own goals has been awesome”
Allison suffered an injury last year that kept her from competing, but she found other ways to stay involved by cheering on her teammates and directing runners and spectators around their course. She has yet to pick a college, but knows she will be going into a career of health sciences.
Coach Dickenson also praised Daniel Byrnes. “I still remember when he was this high and if you know Daniel, you know cross country is his second sport. But he always puts so much heart into it, every season he just keeps coming back. He wanted to come back this year and try to be more of a leader on the team which I appreciated. Daniel's main sport outside of cross country is swimming, which he does year-round,” Dickenson said. “We could not be more proud of him.”
Byrnes has many accomplishments in swimming. He is a two-time Virginia Independent (VIC) conference MVP, four-time all-state award winner, holds the NCS record in the freestyle, 200 and 500 meters, team MVP for the past two years, and competes on the national level. Daniel has committed to Johns Hopkins University, where he plans to swim for the Blue Jays.
“My experience on the cross-country team has been great, even though I can’t make it to a lot of practice and meets.” Byrnes said, “It has always been fun and a great workout.”
He said his favorite memory was when a teammate brought his trumpet to practice and played ‘Kelpy G’ on the roof of a shed at the Patrick Henry High School track.
It has been a long but enjoyable road for these runners who have been on the team for six to seven years.
When asked what advice they would give the younger people on the team Byrnes said, “Make sure to show up to practice as much as you can and drink lots of water because you will feel so much stronger and better in races. You will regret the pain and suffering if you don’t do that.”
“Cross-country is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport” said Hammond, “So, you need to be mentally tough when the pain sets in. When I’m running, I tell myself positive motivational statements to encourage me to keep running.”
Both seniors want to run for a college club or continue running on their own time next year. These two individuals show a lot of love for this sport and their presence will be greatly missed next cross-country season.
By Hania Raza
Covid-19 has brought many changes to the daily lives of students and teachers at North Cross School. This is the first time that North Cross’s daily activities have changed so drastically. Many students are choosing distance learning to avoid the risk of exposure to a possible asymptomatic carrier.
Distance learning brings many challenges to students and teachers alike. When asked about the difficulties faced in online learning, Aashee Nanda ‘24, a distance learner in the United States, says that it is harder for them to ask questions during class. “In normal school, it’s easier to ask questions,” Nanda said, “especially if you’re taking a test.”
International distance learning students have adapted to more drastic changes. Instead of being able to participate in live classes, some choose to watch recorded zooms sessions because of the time difference. It is harder for them to ask questions, do assignments, and contact their teachers. International student Tammie Le ‘21 says that asking questions on Zoom can be difficult. “With in-person learning, I can easily ask my teacher any question at any time,” Le said. “And when I need to ask some private questions or problems, I just need to stay after class to tell them, unlike on Zoom, my voice will come out very loud from the big tv, and everyone can hear it.”
Likewise, it can be aggravating when students cannot figure out how to do an assignment, or when they cannot hear teachers clearly. International student Kevin Dinh ‘21 expressed that sometimes he cannot hear clearly during zoom classes. “It's kind of frustrating when I could hear next to nothing the teachers were saying due to technical difficulties,” Dinh said, “I had to ask them to basically type the entire lesson out.”
Another problem facing international students is that they do not live in the same time zones, which makes it even harder for them to zoom with teachers or talk to other classmates. When asked about the effect of time zones on learning, Dinh expressed that the Time Zone difference is a big problem for him. “Time Zones is one of the biggest issues I had to deal with,” Dinh said. “Ever since I got back to Vietnam and started online classes. I'm required to stay up from 7:30 pm up until 2:00 am of the next day.”
On top of that, it can be harder to concentrate in class if you are not in the classroom. “I personally like taking in-person classes more,” Le said, “because from there I feel like I'm involved and can focus more easily, as we are all in the same classroom and are doing the same thing.
However, there are some advantages about distance learning as well. “Distance learning is easier because it is less stringent than school policies,” Dinh said, “[I am able to] do my schoolwork at a much more comfortable pace compared to normal school.” Learning online also means that students will be working more independently on class work. “Sometimes, on distance learning, teachers will let you out earlier so that you can do your work,” Nanda said, “You can do things a lot more independently.”
Teachers also have had to make changes to the way that they teach and had to learn how to communicate with their students online. For example, teachers must be able to assign work online using Google Classroom for the distance learners. High school English teacher Mr. Dickenson says that he has changed some of his lesson plans, so that students can maintain social distancing and everyone can participate. “If you had a handout, you could just hand it out to your students in class and give them a paper copy,” Mr. Dickenson said, “and so now that we have a number of distance learners, we have to remember to keep everything posted, so that they have access to everything that you are doing in class.”
Likewise, teachers also have had to learn more about Zoom, so online students can fully participate. They have to record their zoom call so that the international students can watch it later. “In most of my classes, I have maybe two or three distance learners, so my only thing is, because they are not in front of you, sometimes it is easy to forget to call on them because you are not just actually seeing them in the chairs in front of you,” Mr. Dickenson said, ”so I do have to regularly remind myself that they are part of the class just like every other student.”
Sometimes, they have to change their lesson plan to accommodate distance learners. “It’s really complicated to have people working in groups because we have to maintain social distance,” Dickenson said. “We are not able to do in the same way, but in my planning, I do try to make sure that whatever lesson you are providing will come off as well for the students who are distance-learning, as the students who are actually in the class because I want it to feel like an even experience, as much as possible, for everybody.”
Distance learning has posed its problems and difficulties. At the same time, it has opened new possibilities for learning and teaching.
By Chloe Hunt '21
Campus feels a little less bright without the one and only Mr. Robillard. The tea-loving, fanny pack-toting tour de force was present in all aspects of campus life.
Whether it be on the tennis court, in the classroom, or at Model United Nations in Boston, the journalism teacher, APUSH teacher, tennis coach, Global Studies Director, Model UN advisor, international trip leader, and Tea Club advisor has made an indelible impression on North Cross life.
Albeit that we have only been in school for a few weeks, students have noticed that he is missing on campus.
Olivia Murchison ‘21 took Mr. Robillard’s AP U.S. History class last year, and she has been a part of the Model UN Program since her sophomore year.
“Mr. Robillard always knew how to brighten my day, and I miss his energy on campus,” Murchison said. “He is important to so many of us and there is definitely a void without him.”
Student Mahum Hashmi ‘21 misses his presence as well.
“There is nobody like him,” Hashmi said. “All of us enjoy seeing him in the hallway. He can make anybody’s day better, and he encouraged me to really delve into history.”
Faculty members miss him as well. Susan Wenk, the Director of the Student Council Association, even planned a special video in his honor.
“If I had to choose two adjectives to describe Mr. Robillard,” Wenk said, “I would use positive and kind.”
Leigh Ann Hamlin, Interim Dean of Students, echoed this idea.
“It is safe to say that our campus is missing a few extra ounces of energy this school year. We miss seeing him walking down the hallway and listening to his stories about his grandiose ideas and adventures,” Hamlin said. “We are so grateful that he is okay and plans to return to our NCS community. We still have so much more to learn from him.”
When Mr. Robillard saw the video that the SCA created for him, featuring perspectives from students and teachers alike, he was brought to tears.
“Despite all that has happened lately, I rarely cry, but this brought out the tears of joy,” Robillard said. “That was some great medicine.”
The story of his accident involves a North Cross alumna, Reagan Robey Brown ‘11.
After getting a Bachelors in Nursing from the University of South Carolina, Brown worked at the RMH ED in the pediatrics and trauma departments. Now, she currently lives and works in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia Medical Center in pediatric oncology, and she is married to another North Cross graduate.
Brown happened to be in Roanoke for wedding preparations when she found Mr. Robillard.
“The day of the accident my mom, my husband, and I were on our way back home from buying a sofa for our new home when I saw a man laying in the road behind a dump truck with a bike near him,” Brown said. “I knew immediately something bad had happened and EMS was not there yet. So, I had my mom pull over and I jumped out.”
As Mr. Robillard said, Brown saved his life.
“As I, and a couple other people arriving at the scene, were assessing him I recognized him to be my teacher Mr Robillard from high school,” Brown said. “He was very injured but able to tell me that yes that was who he was.”
Thereafter, Brown helped calm Mr. Robillard.
“Many bystanders were trying to help in any way they could and also were very startled by what they were seeing, so I found my role to be more keeping both Mr Robillard and his surrounding area calm and safe until the medics arrived. I was able to reach out through a variety of NCS connections in order to attempt to reach his wife and try to let her know what had happened as soon as possible,” Brown said. “Since the accident, it has been amazing to see Robert's resilience, the Robillard family's strength, and the North Cross community's compassion.”
Thanks to Brown’s efforts, Mr. Robillard is recovering at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
“[Brown] literally saved my life,” Robillard said. “There was this woman who was doing the wrong thing and could have killed me, but Reagan jumped into it and realized it was me, and she really, really helped me.”
The hospital provides world-renowned rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other neuromuscular problems.
Mr. Robillard said that the soonest he could be done is November 5, but the recovery process is not linear.
“I was in four weeks of intensive care at Carilion,” Robillard said. “I have been here for about five weeks, and then I will be here most likely deep into November.”
Robillard hopes that he will be done with basic rehabilitation by early November, but he said that the Shepherd Center also has apartments so that patients can adjust to independent living, where he may end up.
“I did not just break my spine in a couple different places,” Robillard said. “I broke my spine, my clavicle, scapula, fractured lots of ribs, and because of those breaks, I have no muscle. I am five weeks in the rehab, but I am basically at square one. I have no ability to do the things they want me to do, and when I try, I go into like a week long relapse of not being able to do a thing.”
Robillard said that rehabilitation is slow, but the thrill is making minor leaps, such as finally getting off the ventilator for example. As we say in Willis Hall, Robillard is making “incremental progress.”
Robillard said that Mr. Thompson, former Director of the Upper School, came to visit him in the hospital.
“I was certain he was going to do an ‘I told you so,’” Robillard said. “Every year, he would see me ride my bike to graduation, and he said that I was going to get into an accident and have to cancel graduation. To his credit, he never said ‘I told you so’ and was there for more in the hospital.”
Mr. Robillard has a long way to go before he is back on campus. When asked what he missed the most about teaching, he immediately responded.
“You guys,” Robillard said. “I miss seeing people’s faces, teaching of course, and being in Roanoke.”
While we wait for him to come back, please continue sending your thoughts, prayers, letters, and videos to the resilient Mr. Robillard.
By Chloe Hunt
The Willis Hall Herald recently conducted an anonymous survey filled with questions about the 2020 Presidential Race.
Approximately three-fifths of the student body completed parts of the survey, but not every student answered each question.
We found that all students eligible to vote in this year’s election are registered. Out of students who are able to vote, two-thirds support President Donald Trump whereas ⅓ support former Vice President Joe Biden.
Over 90% of the high school is not able to vote yet, but out of all of the students in the high school, 55% support Biden. 33% support Trump, and the remaining 12% showed varying results.
In the 12%, two-thirds of students said that they did not like either candidate. Students also said that they did not know yet, they were not interested in politics, or that they supported Kanye West in this group.
Four students said that they supported Biden because of his policies on climate change, and 10% of the Biden supporters stated that he would do a better job than Trump at protecting minorities.
15% of the Trump supporters stated the fact that Biden either has a stutter or “cannot form a sentence” in regards to why they would support Trump. 10% of the Trump supporters also suggested that Trump has been more helpful towards minorities.
Four students suggested that Biden was necessary to “preserve our democracy.” Seven students noted that Biden was not their first choice, but that he is a better candidate than Donald Trump in their opinions.
Three students said that Trump is a “fighter,” and four students said that he wants “law and order.” Six students said that Biden is “respectable,” and eight students said that he is a “good person.”
By Grace Simon '22
Covid-19 poses many hardships to Willis Hall’s athletes. The Virus’s impact has changed gameplay, spectator participation, team morale, and more.
Athletes at North Cross are starting to voice their opinions on the pandemic. “It's made everyone more on edge and annoyed because we always have to wear our masks when we warm up” Jessica Paliska 22’ said. “It's like there is a little wall between everyone because you have to wear a mask.” Another fellow athlete who has played football for a couple years at North Cross also voiced their opinion. “Covid has made football a little different this year. We have to be tested fairly often right after we have games, we have to split up in workout sessions because we can’t all be in the wight room at the same time. When we watch film we also have to social distance and wear a mask which is annoying” said Vedant Muse 22’.
More input was given as Chloe Hunt 21’ discloses information on her tennis season. “We only have two matches this year, and Reagan Karlen and I, captains of the team, at times struggle to keep everyone engaged. After all, there is not much incentive to make everyone try their best when you don’t have a big end goal.” Hunt said. “However, I think the tennis team is resilient. We are having a lot of fun, and Covid-19 gives us more time to work on our skills, especially doubles.”
The athletes are first handedly experiencing these difficulties, but regular students also are seeing changes. Ariana Cardwell ‘22 misses the exciting energy on campus in the fall.
“I really miss being able to hang out with everyone and dress up at the football games,” Cardwell said. “I think it does hurt the spirit of North Cross because we are like a family constantly supporting each other and it is hard to support if we can’t go to each other’s games.”
Mr. Dickenson, the cross country coach, looks more to the positives. “We have been more fortunate in that a number of the other private schools have continued with cross country this fall so we have a bit more competition” Dickenson said. “Since it is an outside activity, it is easier to keep everyone in a safe environment.”
Covid-19 has taken irreplaceable experiences away from the Willis Hall students, but optimism and creativity continue to sustain the school's population.
1) What was your impression after the first week of distance learning?
It's going okay. I think that everyone is trying their best to make distance learning work and make it feel like we are actually in school. Mrs. Angus, the distance learning coordinator, has been helping us a lot. She is organized (in terms of making personalized schedules for us to make it easier to access our classes on time, updating us on any changes that happen, etc.) and is very prompt about returning our emails whenever we have issues and listening to our feedback.
There have been a few problems and complications. The biggest problem so far is the volume. I can hear the teachers when they are speaking near the computer. But, occasionally, when the teacher starts walking away from the computer, I can not hear them clearly anymore. But, Mrs. Angus is ordering lapel mics for all the teachers to solve this problem. And while I can hear the teacher clearly, I cannot hear my classmates which is not a problem now but could be in the future if some classes decide to do a class discussion (because you do not want to repeat something that was already said or interrupt one of your classmates). Labs, of course, are a bit of an issue. But, Mrs. Dickenson has been very considerate and understanding and is trying to make it work. I know that she has been researching on how to do certain labs at home. Overall, I think that the teachers (and Mrs. Angus) are trying their best to make sure we have the same quality of education as those who are doing in-person classes.
2) I am taking some later once I clean up my space.
3) How is your routine different?
It has been a little bit weird with classes starting because both my sisters and my brother are at home and doing their classes online. So we all have different schedules and routines. My routine is not that different than the normal, in-person school routine. I wake up at 7:25 and get ready for school (shower, eat breakfast, change clothes, etc). Then, at 8:00, I sign into assembly and then into first period. At break, I like to grab a snack and some water. For lunch, my siblings and I usually prepare the night before. So, at lunchtime, I usually cut up some fruit and eat the lunch I prepared the night before (usually like a sandwich). After lunch, I attend the next 2 periods. After school, I grab a snack and start working on my homework.
4) What class was your favorite this past week online?
It's a tie between advanced graphic design and AP Comparative Government. I am really interested in graphic design, specifically, the marketing/communication side of it but am also interested in global studies, international relations, stuff like that so I am excited for both classes.
5) Were there any complications this week?
There were some complications this week but Mrs. Angus mentioned beforehand that was expected. Before school started, they sent us an email about how to access the Convocation at 8:00. And so, on the first day of school, my brother and I were trying to access the Convocation at 8 in the morning through the zoom link they sent us but it was not letting us in. Around 8:10, we got an email from Mrs. Angus on how we are Convocation was actually at 8:30 and we needed to join the assembly link for high school students. But, she sent us an email later, containing a video from Mr. Lamas. He apologized for the last-minute communication and said how it was be avoided in the future (link to the video: https://www.loom.com/share/7c68f341a23c44a9afac1d25c4df47da?utm_medium=gif).
6) How do you motivate yourself to stay productive even at home?
It is hard. I still haven't completely grasped the concept that we are in school yet. In order to be more productive, I have established a working environment at my desk. So, basically, I only so schoolwork in that location (and if I want to do something else not related to school, I go to a more comfortable place to establish a mindset that I have to only work at that location if that makes sense). I try to keep my space as organized as possible but sometimes it just does not work out. I also try to minimize distractions. For example, usually, when I am working, my phone is out of sight (either in the drawer or across the room).