Virtual socials connect new and returning students during online school

Flyer courtesy of Marie Gasaway

The WCHS Ambassadors have been creating graphics to advertise their virtual socials. This particular graphic advertised for the Halloween themed social on October 14th, which involved a game of Mafia and

By Austin Vinner, Observations Editor

As the second month of school comes to a close, students are finally getting used to the virtual format, thanks in part to the hard work of the school administration. While the administration has done a lot to try and make the adjustment period easier, virtual socials stand out from the rest as an event that connects the WCHS community. 

“We have virtual socials to keep our Churchill community connected while we go through this tough time,” junior Avani Shetty, a WCHS Ambassador, said. “We also use socials as a way for incoming students to get to know their peers through friendly events like trivia night.” 

Virtual hangouts have become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic whether it be a family event or as a way to hang out with friends. Virtual school-sponsored events have never been done before but with no clear end to the pandemic, more people may start turning into these socials as an outlet for social connection.

“I think these socials will help keep our connection with each other,” Shetty said. “Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to see our friends or teachers everyday like we used to. These socials will hopefully give us that opportunity to bond with each other.” 

For many students, the idea of going to a school-sponsored event is not very appealing and it is up to the ambassadors to destigmatize the socials. There have been three Trivia Nights since the beginning of the school year with the last being on Oct. 2. According to Ambassador Leader, Marie Gasaway, as the school year continues the number of people who are attending virtual socials is dwindling.

“Our first social had the most students. I think because student workload is getting heavier now, we aren’t seeing as much participation,” Gasaway said. “While our first four socials have had ice breakers and Kahoot games, I’m looking forward to the other activities the ambassadors have planned.”

The initial interest in virtual socials was a sign of encouragement for the ambassadors who plan these events. This is uncharted territory and these events will continue to evolve as the school year progresses.

“Over the summer, many ambassadors emailed me about ways to create a welcoming environment for new students that we could do virtually. Out of those conversations came the virtual socials,” Gasaway said.

The virtual socials are unique in the fact that they are planned by different ambassadors from week to week, with Gasaway helping students organize them.

“The students are assigned a date where they will plan a fun social event for students. Students create the games and also create graphics to advertise the event (i.e flyer, infographic, Instagram post, etc.),” Shetty said.

For those who are interested in getting involved in these events, the ambassadors welcome the help. Both new and returning students are welcome to get in touch with Gasaway.

“There are five Ambassadors assigned to each Virtual Social. They are in charge of creating the theme, ice breakers, and games. We also have a graphic design team that creates the graphics for us to promote the socials on Instagram and Twitter,” Gasaway said. “On our school’s website, click on the news event called “virtual socials” that will take you to a Google Document with all of the dates, themes, games, and Zoom links.”

The virtual socials are becoming less frequent with three in September but only two planned for the following months. This was a conscious decision by the ambassadors as student workload increases.

“At first we did a Virtual Social once a week but then we moved to biweekly as students are now focused more on school,” Gasaway said. “We chose random times and dates after school [for our events]. We didn’t want them to be on one day a week at a certain time in case students couldn’t make that one specific time. So, we spread out the dates and times.”

Overall, virtual socials are going well, with enough participation to continue having them. Students are encouraged to attend one of these events (the next is on Monday, Nov. 2).

“We hope that the Socials will help some students make connections with other students during this virtual setting as they cannot meet friends in the hallways or at lunch right now,” Gasaway said. “We also hope the Socials provide a time for students to just relax and enjoy playing games with friends.”