Maya Hruskar ’23
Picture this: adults frantically running through school hallways, lost in the labyrinth-like maze of Staples. Their next presentation is in one minute and they have yet to find the classroom- the stress they undergo being very similar to that of a freshman on the first day of school. This used to be the experience of parents during back to school night, but not this year.
Back to school night (BTSN) 2020, distance-learning style, consisted of live-on-zoom or pre-recorded teacher presentations that parents could watch from the comfort of their couch. Opinions on this adaptation varied widely, with some parents praising the convenience and others missing the immersive experience that in-person BTSN provided.
Lori Church, mother of a Staples sophomore and junior, favors the typical in-person experience of BTSN.
“The in-person one gave me a better understanding of the experience my children have,” Church said. “Sitting in the classroom environment, seeing their teachers in person, even the experience of walking from one class to another.”
This sentiment, echoed by teachers and parents alike, is shadowed by the inconvenience and difficulties of in-person BTSN.
Shanette Finger, mother of a Staples sophomore, said that in previous years her husband was unable to attend BTSN because he couldn’t get home from work fast enough. Finger also cited that in-person BTSN could sometimes feel “rushed and stressful” while virtual BTSN avoided those issues.
“I remember running around, sometimes literally running, trying to get to the next presentation on time,” Church said. “I would sometimes get lost in the school and be late to the next presentation.”
The experience of virtual BTSN was vastly different from in-person BTSN, with viewers capable of rewinding and rewatching parts of presentations. Technical issues, surprisingly, were also not much of a problem since the administration emailed a troubleshooting cheat-sheet.
Like many parents and guardians, Church had a positive experience with virtual back to school night. She stated that it was “calmer and more comfortable” than previous years, and that she absorbed more information from the presentations. However, the immersive experience that in-person BTSN provided wasn’t matched by BTSN 2020.
“I loved being in the school building, seeing in person the place where my students spent all their days,” Church said. “Even though I got less out of the presentations, the sense of community and getting the full experience is ultimately more important.”