Since moving to remote learning in March 2020, staff and faculty have dedicated themselves to creating the most Choate-like experience possible for students during the pandemic. Amidst the hardships of this year, the School's main objective is to prioritize safety without compromising learning outcomes or an authentic community experience. The most recent fall term has been no exception. With this perspective, Choate Rosemary Hall has successfully modified academic and extracurricular programming to ensure the safety of the campus community.
Students began the term online on September 8th, returning to campus for in-person learning early October. With safety as a top priority, all members of the Choate community committed to a Community Compact, a pledge for each individual to do their part to adopt recommended behaviors in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 on campus. This compact was supported by guidelines and education laid out by the Safe + Sounder campaign, the School's extensive COVID-19 response plan.
This fall term marks the first full trimester shifting from a traditional learning experience to hybrid classrooms. Changes were made to schedules and classroom work for better access and equity, prioritizing individual student needs. Modified schedules allowed students learning from home to maintain their school day during waking hours in respective time zones.
Choate Rosemary Hall continues to lead in academic innovation by successfully blending the remote and campus learning experience through the use of the School's new Virtual Student technology, a monitor and video system allowing for on-campus group work with remote students. Over eighty Virtual Student systems were configured on campus to promote a more cohesive learning environment.
Choate faculty and students believe the show must go on, and so it did. Scenes in this season's theatre production, Take Away, by faculty member Kate Doak, were individually recorded in physically distanced spaces with green screens adding an element of editing for each act. The production is expected to be shared with the community this winter.
The Dance Program extended beyond the Choate campus with students incorporating choreography designed for virtual performances. Distanced dancers coordinated rehearsals in their respective time zones in order to continue practicing together despite the miles between them. The group anticipates sharing their annual spring performance in 2021
This year's Fall Music Concert, featuring student soloists and ensembles, was shared virtually on November 15. Music rehearsals took place in less traditional spaces with special masks for wind instruments and duckbill masks for vocal performers. Individual music lessons through Zoom allowed students one-on-one time with faculty.
Visual Arts classes shifted to a digital platform where both campus and remote students shared work with their advisers and peers through Google and Dropbox to review and provide feedback. Faculty members also created monthly collaboration projects to keep students connected, such as constellation-inspired pieces where students created works using a range of media, from embroidery to photography. Biweekly Arts Concentration meetings also began by sharing interesting and inspiring works of art.
Despite the cancellation of fall interscholastic competition, school spirit and competitive sportsmanship remained strong. Student athletes continued pre-season and in-season training with a strong focus on skills, drills, wellness, and overall athletic excellence. Unique opportunities in skills and training took shape as a result of an adaptive trimester such as athletic engagement in the CoachMePlus app. One new offering was the Athletic Department's sports psychology programming, which focuses on developing a strong mental approach to an individual's athleticism. Additionally, new intramural offerings were added for the student community, such as ping pong, pickleball, morning yoga, and frisbee golf.
Community and Student Life
To begin the trimester, boarding students and day students were assigned to small family units, These family units proved to be beneficial and were offered by Form Deans to remote students in early November. Remote family units connected students in matching time zones. Sixty remote students are taking advantage of these closer connections with their peers.
Campus-wide activities and events persisted in order to preserve the traditions of the student experience. Annual school-wide events like Matriculation, Community Service, Science Research Program Student Lecture Series, School Meetings and Form Meetings, and more remained significant activities of the 2020 fall term.
Students also enjoyed opportunities for outdoor movie viewings, ukelele jam sessions, live stream game nights, coffee talks, and several other activities. The competitive spirit of campus was seen in outdoor spikeball tournaments, capture the flag, and dodgeball tournaments. Many student clubs remain active in their missions and event planning, offering additional activities for the community to participate.
Fall break began on Friday, November 20, when students returned home before beginning the winter term remotely in December. Current plans call for students to return to campus in Wallingford beginning on January 9.