With The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” as background music, the tone was set at the Mettawee Community School for its first All-School Meeting in more than one year.
“One tradition that we missed most due to the pandemic, was our ability to come together as a community of students, faculty and staff,” said MCS Principal Brooke DeBonis. “Once we became proficient with technology, we just had to use our newfound skills to hold an All-School Meeting to celebrate with each other.”
The virtual meeting was held March 12, the one-year anniversary of the COVID shutdown.
Sixth-grade student, Weston Graf, anchored the assembly, deftly guiding the various elements of the meeting.
Birthdays were recognized with the entire audience offering a silent hands display of shimmering fireworks.
The screen next moved from room to room where masked students served as street reporters offering up the newsy and the unintentionally hilarious, (remember, kids sometimes say the darndest things):
“On this day in history, the Girls Scouts were founded and the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.”
“I heard a wolf howl up on the mountain.”
“We have four new baby lambs, two boys and two girls.”
“My sister’s cat met a barn cat.”
The main event at the meeting was the presentation of a video that featured student artwork from all grades during the school year.
The recording was introduced by two fifth-grade students Emily Fifield and Rowan Trigg, who added a comedic flare to their routine, “I was drawn to the paintings,” and, “What was the artist’s favorite swimming technique? The brushstroke.”
In pre-pandemic times, Mettawee students participated with other local schools in a spring art show at the Southwest Vermont Art Center. COVID-19 cancelled last year’s showcase.
“My car was literally loaded with art work to transport to the museum on the very day classrooms were shut down last March,” said art teacher Amy Harris. “This video shows just a small example of the terrific work our kids have created during the last year. I’m so proud of their art, it needs to be seen.”
The executive producer and director for pulling off the All-School gathering was MCS librarian, Kelly Ahlfeld and music instructor, Lisa Hoyt.
They figured out all matter of logistics to make it happen and even produced a short video to share their excitement with the staff about hosting the first MCS virtual All-School meeting. They determined how to link multiple classrooms with in-person students to their classmates working remotely from home.
At the same time, staff members logged in from strategic locations throughout the building to participate in the virtual community celebration.
“Kelly and Lisa simply made everything work,” DeBonis said. “The rest of us on staff just sat back and enjoyed the show.”
If smiling faces are an indicator, the virtual All School Meeting was a huge success.
Teachers said the kids especially enjoyed seeing each other and very much loved the show. It was a terrific way to end the week.
Hoyt added, “I know I was overcome by emotion watching people and classes enter on-screen at the top of the show, it was a strange sense of simultaneous distance and connection. I think our student hosts and classes all did a great job.”
The All School Meeting concluded with a reminder that everyone will gather again online near the end of April. The virtual sessions will be held monthly for the remainder of the school year with plans to meet as a complete group next fall.
As music filled the air, students in every room signed off with waves, good wishes and see-you-soons to their classmates.