Emma Newman staff writer
Teachers and staff are preparing for the upcoming Open House, which will take place via Zoom on Jan. 27 from 5:15 to 6:00 p.m. The earlier sessions will be tailored for incoming ninth graders and their parents, and from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m, the sessions are meant to be for current students and their parents.
Incoming freshmen, current students and parents can attend the event by clicking on an interactive map sent out Jan. 25. The map contains links to every session, including the general opening session. Some sessions are time-sensitive, while others will be available all night. Attendees of the event will be able to get general information about each department and program, although they can also speak to teachers one-on-one.
English Dept. co-chair Phil Chang is working with the administration and the English Department to help prepare for Open House in order to be able to use Zoom to achieve the purpose of the event.
“We’re following the direction from admin, which is to have a Zoom room that’s dedicated for welcoming parents,” Chang said. “We’re gonna have breakout rooms…so [teachers] can showcase what we’re doing here at the high school because that’s what Open House is generally about: showcasing all the great things that we’re doing to help provide students with the best experience they can have at the high school.”
Assistant principal Drew Stewart led the preparation process for Open House this month. Most of his preparation involved reaching out to members of certain programs to coordinate and creating the roadmap for the night through a program called Canva.
He also made sure that sessions are spaced out to avoid forcing students and their families to choose between two sessions.
One of the biggest challenges he faced has been trying to coordinate every aspect of the process via email, which he found to be less effective than in-person coordination.
“With everything, it feels like things take longer because everything’s via email, whereas on campus, I could walk in and go talk to all of the people I need to talk to and have a five minute conversation with them and flesh out details,” Stewart said. “Now, everything [involves] a million emails back and forth, so [it’s] logistically, from that sense, a little more challenging.”
However, accommodating teachers have helped ease these difficulties.
“Everybody wants to show off their programs and so, in that sense, it’s been super easy,” Stewart said. “Everybody’s been super cooperative and helpful and excited about it.”
Chang also faced difficulties adjusting to this new format. Normally, he could showcase work that already is on campus. Another obstacle he encountered is orchestrating the “movement” of students and parents via Zoom.
“Trying to create the material and the experience that we can provide while on campus through Zoom, which presents its own challenges, [is] the hardest part, but I feel like people are doing a pretty good job trying to figure it out,” Chang said.
These technological difficulties are what history teacher Pete Van Rossum expects to be the main topic of discussion at Open House.
“I anticipate parents are going to be asking us how we’re adjusting to remote learning and of course, that’s a balance of what they already know that we’ve been doing and how we expect to see this thing through,” Van Rossum said.
He also foresees that technology could make the number of individuals who attend Open House be lower than usual, although he also thinks that it could make it easier for students and parents to show up.
Chang and Stewart think the Zoom format will actually increase the number of attendees. Stewart also foresees that Beverly Vista Middle School’s promotion of the event and the lack of need to park at the events will contribute to a greater number of people at Open House than in previous years.
Stewart views this as positive because he wants students who are going to go to high school next year to attend the event and learn about different classes and extracurriculars available to them.
“For eighth graders that are coming in, it’s an opportunity to see all of the different sorts of…course offerings,” Stewart said. “It’s a chance for those kids to look before they do their course requests at middle school [and] think about what kind of classes they might want, not only as ninth graders but throughout high school.”
He also thinks it is important for current students and their families to go to Open House to ask questions they have about courses.
Van Rossum views Open House as important for the parents of current students, as it offers them an opportunity to officially meet the teachers of their children. Chang agrees, as he sees Open House as an opportunity to allow parents to get a better look at their child’s education and life in class.
“I feel like most parents are fairly good about being involved with their student’s educational life…but, that being said, it still gives the parents a better view of what’s happening in the classrooms and what the teacher has set up for the kids to have a good experience, not just succeed in academics, but have a good experience, period,” Chang said.
While Chang knows this aspect is important, he also appreciates the fact that the event can be a way for current eighth graders to have a better transition into high school.
“It’s a really good opportunity for [the] incoming freshmen to get information, and feel a little more at ease about what initially may seem like the ‘big scary high school,’ and see that…there are structures and foundation setups so that we can have a fairly smooth entrance,” Chang said. “It showcases a lot of opportunities and foundational help that is set up at the high school to help people acclimate to their new life, so I really feel like it’s important.”