An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Sophia H. ’25

Over the past year, the lives of students across the globe have changed drastically. Classrooms have been replaced with Zoom calls, and social interaction takes place through the magic of technology and social media more often than not. This sense of separation is something we can all resonate with in one way or another, and to many of us, it can feel isolating. However, human connection is necessary for survival, and despite the pandemic, it’s still possible to form authentic bonds with others safely. Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing, and this winter the STA (Students Taking Action) club is striving to push this narrative.

Through the Palentines project run by club members in grades 5 through 8, all Middle School students were paired with a mystery classmate within the same grade. It was a great opportunity to not only interact with students from other cohorts but additionally build new connections with individuals whom you otherwise would not interact with, which has become more difficult recently. From personal experience, I know how easy it can be to tend to gravitate towards only your close bubble of friends, but Palentines encouraged students to expand their connections. Over the span of the month of February, Palentine buddies exchanged three letters that revealed clues to their identity, produced using the information collected from a Google form.

The experience concluded with an online reveal party on Friday, Feb. 26th, held virtually to accommodate blended learning. The suspense finally culminated with icebreaker activities and games, and it served as a great way to interact with other members of the student body. There’s almost solace in the knowledge that although much has changed in each of our lives individually, the Middle School still remains a close-knit community that prioritizes socialization.