Discord goes viral in WCHS classrooms


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Qiu.

The promotional flyer for the physics Discord server at WCHS is shown above, consisting of the info on the server and decorations of WCHS pride colors.

By Amir-Abbas Yazdi, Assistant Online Editor

Lack of good out-of-school communication between teachers and students has always been a problem at school. In the past year, the result of full-time virtual learning has amplified the effects of miscommunication. In the search for a solution, one tool in particular has stood out: Discord. 

Discord is a communication platform that can be downloaded on a variety of platforms, including IOS, Windows, Mac and Android. Discord has traditionally been used by gamers to communicate with each other while playing games in real time. However, its easy-to-use interface has recently allowed it to spread to different branches of the community. 

Discord has now found its way to WCHS. Before the start of the 2020-2021 school year, a decision was made by three incoming freshmen to create the ‘Churchill Server,’ a class wide Discord server.

“I think it helped a lot of people create new friendships and feel more comfortable about asking questions about schoolwork, since not many people had the courage [or ability] to do that in real life,” WCHS sophomore Sogie Nugent said.

Turns out, the Discord server was exactly what many WCHS needed to flourish in online school. Unfortunately, because the only moderation in the server was student-run, there were a few problems with academic honesty in the server.

“Unfortunately [cheating was an issue],” Nugent said. “But we’ve managed to ban the people on the server; we have a policy where if someone plagiarizes/cheats, then we ban them completely off of the server. We do not encourage plagiarism or cheating. It’s in our rules.”

Nugent takes moderation seriously. Despite only recently taking official ownership over the server, her goals are set high.

“I want [the Discord server] to just be a safe space for everyone to just chill, relax, ask questions about homework and subjects, etcetera,” Nugent said. “Students of all grades are welcome to join the server, it’s kinda like a safe haven.”

Besides the Churchill Server, other WCHS specific Discord communities are prominent among students. The “Physics Lads” server is a hit at WCHS, a group made for physics students. It was founded by Elizabeth Qiu and Andrew Detitta in Fall 2020. There are currently 300+ members to date, including students, staff, and alumni. 

“[The server’s] original purpose was to more easily connect physics students (i.e., provide a virtual study space with text, voice, picture, and video capabilities) while they remained remote from the school building,” said Mr. Lee, a physics teacher at WCHS. “It has since evolved to include some of WCHS’ physics teachers, so as to better facilitate student-to-teacher discourse.”

The decision to invite teachers was a risky choice, but it turned out to be a great decision for the benefit of the students in the server.

“Students contacting each other and their teachers via Discord is much faster than through email, so it is a dramatic improvement to efficiency of communication,” Lee said.

In the end, school Discord servers are a unique tool for school teachers and students, and that comes with pros and cons. 

“I believe that the developers of Discord likely never intended it to be used for educational purposes, but the reality of COVID-19 has allowed for clever applications of a variety of technologies,” Lee said. “With the proper precautions (and really, that’s true for any online platform), it can be a great place for learning and appropriate socializing.”