Skip To Main Content

Community Fridays and House Visits

Exterior photo of Firestone Hall at dusk

Although teaching and learning dominate what happens each day at Old Trail during a typical in-person school day pre-pandemic, there is also so much more that happens in-between.

Critical social development and moments that foster our sense of community occur daily during class changes, lunchtime and recess. With the school closure in March 2020, our school community lost so many of those important moments due to the virtual environment that the moment necessitated.

Our sense of community and the close relationships that form as a result form the foundation of the Old Trail School experience. To help students feel more socially connected, we developed an online series called Community Fridays during the school closure in 2020.

On each Friday in May, teachers and staff members volunteered to offer age-appropriate, virtual sessions that filled the entire school day. The classes were typically short (30 minutes to an hour) and featured a range of topics from enrichment (book clubs, STEM, writer’s guild, etc.) to exploratory (“Plan a Fairy Garden!”, “Music and Movement”) to just plain fun (American Girl Doll, board games, making slime). The sessions were optional and allowed students to build their own schedules, based entirely on their interests, while also providing some much-needed child coverage for many of our families who were working remotely from home at the time.

By far, the most popular session was “Let’s Make a Deal,” which was hosted by our gregarious Middle School Director David Chottiner. Each week, students engaged in friendly competition—often scrambling to find random household items or answering wacky questions—to win an assortment of fun prizes. For the biggest winners, members of the school’s leadership team would personally drive to households to deliver the prizes. And while the prizes themselves may have been commonplace (Chick-fil-A or pizza delivery, for example), it was hard to place a value on the human connection that resulted during a time when the world was so isolated.

The parent of a child who won a house visit wrote: “We cannot tell you how much it meant to our family to see all of your faces tonight. Our children were so excited all week in anticipation and they were absolutely ecstatic to see all of you outside our home. It brought tears to our eyes when we saw everyone pull up to the house. We are beyond grateful to each and every one of you for taking your time to do something so special for our children. We know how hard you are all working and it meant the world that you took more time out of your day to bring so much joy to our family.”