Being new and remote in the Zoom Era


Chloe Costa Baker

“It’s part of what makes that school experience, getting to hang out with friends and things like that. I feel like it’s kind of half academics and half social life,” says Alena Zhang ’24. 

Westtown is more than halfway through the first school year that has, since the very start, required a combination of online and in-person classes. This affects not only the format of learning, but also the friendships and connections able to be made within the community. Students who are new to Westtown during this time are especially susceptible to the disconnect this distance can bring. 

“If you don’t have friends, or at least acquaintances, it’s hard to have a good time,” Will Conzemius ’23 said. “No one really wants to spend all their time on their own. It’s better to have someone to spend it with, so it’s important to me that I have relationships.” As a new student who is currently remote, Conzemius says he is not completely satisfied with the level of interaction he experiences with classmates. “I have interacted with people a little bit, in breakout rooms and stuff, but it’s not close to how I would like to.”

Zhang also feels that, in the world of Zoom classes, social connections are somewhat lacking. “There’s honestly, in some classes, minimal interaction with your classmates, because in breakout rooms, nobody really talks. Unless you have a long project with someone, like one-on-one—I made a new friend through that—but most of the time it’s just one-time breakout rooms.” 

Luna H.* ’24 noted the significance of clubs for her in meeting new people, saying, “I participated in Math Club last semester, and also Science Club. It should be the only chance that I can chat with people that are at Westtown campus, or in America.”

With the student body still so separated, school-wide Zoom meetings including Assembly, Joint Collection, and Meeting for Worship can be the only way for new students in the time of Covid to get a sense of the community at large. Although the majority of students keep their cameras off and their microphones muted, a positive impact is still felt.

“I seldom talk on these very big events, but while I am listening, I can find a lot of beautiful spirits there, so that’s really nice,” Luna H. said. 

“In general I’m neutral to those kinds of large Zoom meetings . . . but we had that talent show a couple weeks back, and that was really fun,” Zhang remarked.

Conzemius attested to a similar element as Zhang, stating, “It’s good to come together as a community, even when we’re not in the same room. The faculty really show their sense of fun there, which I think is awesome.”

When asked what they look forward to the most if and when a return to campus occurs, interpersonal interaction was central to the responses. 

“Just make more friends,” said Luna H. “I am a person that really likes to make friends, so it actually makes me a little bit frustrated, since I got into Westtown for almost a year, and I know few people.”

“Working with people, building relationships,” Conzemius said. “School is definitely better in person. There’s less distractions, more interactions with the teachers, and I feel it’s easier to focus and grasp the material. So I’m looking forward to that.”

*Editors’ Note: The name Luna H. is a pseudonym. The quoted student elected to stay semi-anonymous.