Liberty newcomers conquer virtual challenges

Ciena Sakamoto, Staff Writer

Almost everyone can agree that going to a new school can be uncomfortable, daunting, or even downright scary. There is a new environment with new peers, challenges, and opportunities to adapt to. And now that school is online, new staff and students are connecting to the Liberty community in unprecedented ways.  

Senior Sarah Caffoe never expected to start off her final year of high school online. Despite her high expectations for senior year, she says that being new to Liberty in an online environment has brought a few road bumps.

“In the beginning, it was difficult to meet people because nobody knew I was the ‘new kid’ and I could only meet people over Zoom,” Caffoe said.

One of the clear challenges that many of the new staff and students face is making strong human connections that are more easily formed when school is held in person. 

“I have been able to connect with staff when we are at school working in our rooms, and I’ve met a few students,” new CTE teacher Michael Aylesworth said. “But students seriously need to turn their cameras on—when they’re off, it’s like I’m talking to a wall that I have to grade.”

However, Liberty admin has been hard at work making this transition easier for new staff and students at Liberty. From breakout rooms to fun icebreakers, connections are being formed in virtual classrooms, and despite the challenges, new staff and students have found ways to adapt to the circumstances. 

“I am leveraging technology and being creative with my lessons to spark engagement in my students. I also enjoy meeting with other teachers on a weekly basis via Zoom to refine our lessons,” new math teacher Areeba Rashid said.  

Going back to school in person will bring more of the traditional challenges and triumphs for new students and staff. Just by virtue of being in the building, they will be able to familiarize themselves with the structure, spirit, and culture of the school.   

If we go back to school, I think that finding my way around will be a challenge because Liberty looks big and daunting from the outside,” Caffoe said.  “However, people at Liberty are nice, and I’m sure they will be super helpful.”