Zoom meetings connect Principal Heckert and students


Photo by Jeremy Fredricks

During the Tenth Grade Zoom on May 7, Principal Brandice Heckert explained the options for how MCPS would give students second semester grades. The zooms have been held with each grade level and allowed students and stafff to reconnect, and ask questions.

By Jeremy Fredricks, Copy Editor

Three months ago, Zoom was a virtually unknown app. Now, it is being used to host events and meetings throughout the world. It has become so popular that Principal Brandice Heckert is using it to reconnect with WCHS students and staff in grade-level meetings. 

These half-hour sessions include Principal Heckert addressing student’s concerns and questions, administration and guidance counselors sharing their newly-learned skills, and reconnections between staff and students. 

“There is a lot of information coming out on electronic platforms that take away the personalization and human interaction which I know we are all missing right now,” Heckert said. “[I wanted students to feel] comfort. Just to know that we are still here even though it looks different.”

With the constant spread of disinformation, WCHS students, like sophomore Avani Shetty, wanted to attend to learn more about what is going on.

“I decided to go to the Zoom to get more information on what was going on right at that moment and what was the next step,” Shetty said. “I wanted to address the continuity of learning and what would be considered the “new normal.””

Students discussed many topics, including the second semester grading policy, returning to school to retrieve items, testing and clubs. 

“I wanted to know more about the grading policy, which was discussed,” sophomore Julian Silva said. “Since the Board of Education meeting wasn’t until the following week, we were only able to know the options for the policy at that time.”

Heckert believes there are many benefits to these Zoom meetings, even if there are a few downsides to the new platform.

“In many cases, there are still answers I don’t have so it can be frustrating for me,” Heckert said.  “The flip side is that parents and students have reassurance that I share common concerns and that we are all in this together. I think I was able to clear up any confusion and continue to communicate accurate information.”

While Heckert is pleased with the ability for students and staff to virtually connect, she understands how much they miss each other.

“Even though we have digital access to many, staff, students and myself included feel very isolated,” Heckert said. “For students especially, they have grown to recognize relationships they have taken for granted. I do think it forms a bond that no one predicted. I do also know that our students miss staff and our staff miss students.”

Shetty also agrees that the Zoom meetings strengthen the community bond at WCHS, but misses the face-to-face interaction.

“By having these Zoom sessions, we can still interact with each other,” Shetty said. “Just by having Zoom and talking to each other, we are strengthening our community as a whole. It was definitely different because obviously it was no longer face to face. But I was glad to see everyone.”

Some students have emailed Principal Heckert to further clarify questions they had. Heckert says she’s received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“The advantages are that these Zoom meetings allow the students to ask questions and be informed of anything they are confused about in terms of school in this quarantine,” Silva said. “It can impact the WCHS community by allowing them to feel more heard by their administration in this time of isolation and allow for confusion to be cleared up.”

Principal Heckert is planning on hosting another round of Zoom meetings towards the end of May. They will be open to parents and students of any grade level. More information about these Zoom meetings will be sent in emails to students and parents.

“It will be very interesting to see how we respond as a system in the weeks and months ahead,” Heckert said. “If in person meetings are not an option, I will continue to host as many meetings as needed to support our students, staff, and community.”