It all began, like most things do, with a friendly game of “skribbl.io”.
Prompted by Student Council President Aaron Wolf, a few OVS students joined a Google Meets and played a version of online Pictionary for about an hour on March 23. And this impromptu moment of online fun meant so much because in the absence of social gatherings at school after COVID-19 closures, students must find other ways to maintain their friendships.
“That was the first time where people had gotten together since school,” said senior Sebastian Wayman-Dalo. “There were only a few of us there, but having something to do with other people really kinda makes you forget all about the other things. It’s just fun you know.”
After that game, Sebastian, as well as the 5 or so other students who participated, were hungry for more. So the OVS Student Council pieced together a couple rounds of the online trivia game “Kahoot!” a week later in which 14 students played a couple rounds to compete for a Domino’s Pizza gift card.
Of course, it went swimmingly: nothing could taint the purity of “Kahoot!” and pizza. These events foster a sense of community, a sense of community that is normally central to the Ojai Valley School experience. While online games and video chats don’t come close to the activities that take place on campus, these games attempt to fill a large hole in what students are missing being off campus.
Integer Vitae, Ojai Valley School’s motto, includes “symmetry of life” or a program that is strong in both academic and social life. Creating an environment where students can engage in fun social interaction is difficult to do on Google Meets, and Student Council’s efforts to encourage community have been successful for those who have attended so far. But the Student Council hopes to increase student participation in future events.
“We are only getting like 10-15% participation, and that’s disappointing,” said Aaron. “It’s harder to encourage attendance over email because it is just a more business-oriented platform.”
In the interest of encouraging participation, Student Council began organizing another event: a “Fortnite” competition.
“It was just a fun idea to bring people together,” said Junior Class Representative Gabe Weisiger who organized a “Fortnite” tournament week. “I know a lot of people have been playing video games and with ‘Fortnite’ everyone can play together.”
Gabe’s idea for a “Fortnite” tournament began as just a joke in the Student Council group chat. The group was brainstorming different activities that would take place on Google Meets after class and at Gabe’s mention of “Fortnite,” the online event was already being planned.
Just a few days later, students battled it out equipped with video game rocket launchers and virtual jump pads. Ojai Valley School’s finest logged on with XBoxes, PCs and iPhones and began joyously screaming at one another.
Most recently, junior Mark Pindur began organizing Team Minigames. His first week featured a team Jeopardy competition and which was played for Amazon gift cards. Mark, who is not a part of the Student Council, has been organizing this event on his own. His planning abilities and eagerness to help create a good time for his peers led Mark to try his hand at organizing an online event.
“I think it will bring some people together,” said Mark. “It’s a team-based game and it gives you a space to work together and communicate with peers.”
Ojai Valley School is built on a strong sense of community. We know that buildings are not what make a community, people are. And even if activities take place on Google Meets and conversations happen over FaceTime, it is our friends that keep our community strong and vibrant.Share