Connect periods transition to activity lessons

Restarted activity lessons try to reconnect the school


Hannah Levy/ Talon

Angie Bleau and Ava Harris

Last year, connect periods every Friday tried to reconnect the school though computer screens, focusing primarily on diversity, equity, and digital citizenship. This year, connect periods are gone, and students now activity in their 3rd or 4th period classes. 

According to Principal Mat McClanahan, a goal is to reconnect students and faculty after a year of online learning. The most recent activities  were on Tuesday Nov. 16 and Wednesday Nov. 17, the first of which focused on online safety and privacy, while the second was for students to complete the California Healthy Kids and School Safety surveys. 

When these activities are presented, students are encouraged to participate, ideally in a classroom setting of trust.

“There’s no way to talk about our ideas of diversity and identity without building trust in the class,” English II and IV teacher Jessica Wall said. “On the surface, they may seem like ice-breakers or classroom-builders, but I think they’re really necessary for what we’re doing here which is trying to curate trust in our academic setting to then talk about some crucial conversations.” 

One student expressed that they did not learn any new information from the last two connect periods. 

“Personally, for privacy and online safety, I don’t think I learned anything new so it wasn’t particularly useful in that sense. It was just interesting to hear the presenter’s stories, but I don’t think that will leave an impact on me,” sophomore Mahek Kapadia said. 

When the activity lesson on Nov. 16th and Nov. 17th ended, there was a student questionnaire meant to show the administration and district what students think about the activity lessons. With that feedback from the questionnaires, the district hopes to create future activity lessons based on the students well being and needs. 

“It made me feel better to know that the feedback we gave is actually being looked at and not just an on-the-surface questionnaire about how we’re doing,” Kapadia said. 

The whole idea of reconnection after a year of online learning is the chief focus of these lessons, specifically designed to be a school-wide thing to help with that loss of connection.  

“Teachers at OPHS have made tremendous efforts to help them reconnect with students.  Everyone recognizes that this year has been challenging in ways we could not have fully anticipated,” McClenahan said. “Our Activity Lessons are designed to address aspects of student life that are maybe just a bit outside the normal classroom conversations.  Touching on these topics directly gives students and faculty an opportunity to connect without the overarching concerns of content mastery and grades hanging over the conversation.”