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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

WOW Week marks students’ return to campus

By Bellefontaine Nhan and Emme Tran | Staff Writers

   Gabrielino High School began the new school year with three days of social-emotional instruction on campus. During the Week of Welcome, or WOW Week, students engaged in several activities that helped them connect to the campus and with one each other after a year and half of Virtual Academy. 

   From Aug. 23-25, students had a shortened daily schedule consisting of two academic classes, running 50 minutes each, and a 150-minute Embedded Time. Lunch followed Embedded Time and students were dismissed by 2pm.

During the academic classes, teachers led various icebreaker activities and introduced themselves to their students. Teachers were instructed not to conduct any subject matter lessons during the first three days of school.

The Embedded Time periods were divided into segments, each 50-minute session consisting of getting-to-onw-you activities or outdoor games and competitions. One activity that every class participated in on Monday was the campus scavenger hunt, during which students were introduced to or re-aquainted with the Gabrielino campus.

Freshman Tracy Thang said, “I felt like I [got to know] my way around and kind of got used to the high school experience.”  

The scavenger hunt ended with ASB giving every student a free bandana in their class color. Seniors were given black, juniors were assigned red, sophomores got blue, and freshman received green bandanas.

Other outside activities included the water balloon toss, slip n’ slide, swiss cheese tarp challenge, pool noodle soccer, and a human Connect Four. Activities were spread out across the campus.

   Activities were carefully planned to be COVID-safe and entertaining. Student members of the WOW planning committee were consulted in order to plan activities that students would enjoy, according to sophomore Deanna Estrada, a committee member.

On Wednesday, lunch was extended to two hours to allow for The Habit to bring four food trucks onto campus for students and staff. Each person got a free hamburger, cheeseburger, or veggie burger, a side of chips and bottled water.   

  Junior Mia Phu stated, “[It was a] good way to get back into the routine of in-person school [because] it eased the process.”

   The WOW planning committee consists of Estrada, world history and Peer Helping advisor Chris Budde, art teacher Kat Ross, Wellness Center Counselor Chris Saporito, physical education instructor Edith Gonzalez, chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher Chanda Strom, junior Emilia Esseln, and school psychologist Natalie Lehmann.

   Estrada noted that the committee participated in bimonthly meetings that began in June and continued throughout the summer. Ross also stated that “it took over 50 hours to design the schedules and activities.” 

    “We wanted the students to feel safe with their peers before they were ready to go [do] big activities outside in front of other people,” said Ross. “[The newness of coming back to campus] can create anxiety for students, so we were trying to be sensitive to that.”

   To comply with safety regulations, only a certain number of classes were allowed to be in one area at a time and teachers were encouraged to mix up activities.  

   Ross stated, “There [had to be] a balance between getting outside to do fun things, and getting to be in protected inside spaces.”

Members of ASB, Key Club, FBLA and the custodial staff set up the outdoor events. The custodial staff also helped set up for The Habit food trucks. 

   ASB Vice President Henry Wang said, “When setting up for the Embedded Time activities on Monday, ASB had a little [bit of a] hard time […] as it was also our first time setting up [and] monitoring these activities. Thankfully, we were able to set everything up before the classes started coming out.”

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WOW Week marks students’ return to campus