FLEMINGTON, NJ - Hunterdon Central Regional School District student Ashley Mendez offered some feedback to the board of education that the student government has received about the progress of this most unusual high school year, as of the first six week.

“Students have noted that Zoom is boring and it’s strange not seeing people physically present at-school,” she said. “Overall, the online Zoom experience is disorganized, the bell schedule is a little overwhelming and confusing, especially for freshmen.”

Mendez said students at Central are seeking new methods for receiving and relaying information.

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“Information students are receiving is not organized,” she said. “Maybe a high school-wide Google Classroom or student homepage could be the solution so students can get everything at once, though weekly emails would be very helpful. We have talked about how some students are finding it difficult to work with their emails and information from classrooms, while staying organized with all the work we get, now that we are hybrid or all-virtual for some students.”

The student council, Mendez said, is suggesting that the district website also add a new page with the various announcements from and pertaining to student clubs to make every student aware of the activities their peers are involved in. Mendez said this can be a way to go beyond morning announcements and provide information that “students would need to write down the first time they hear it,” plus all virtual students would have a new place to turn to for current events and information.

The HCRHS Council of Student Representatives has suggested creating a common space for holding different activities and clubs to find common interests, collaborations and meetings. Mendez told the board of education this “innovation space” would help foster school unity.

“This common space could help increase interest across groups because if certain clubs become aware of other clubs’ activities, they can promote them through word of mouth,” she said. “To build greater connections, student council brainstormed competitions between clubs, a ‘Virtual Wednesday’ and larger fundraisers for multiple student clubs to hold together. Everyone would learn what clubs other students are in and they could see what the other clubs are about.”

According to Superintendent Jeffrey Moore, the district has talked about expanding the current on-campus slate of opportunities and gathering spaces for clubs while maintaining safe physical distancing. He noted that every challenge Mendez described is correlated to the suggestions student council has deliberated on to fix this problem.

“This is amazing, and Mr. Brandt and I have often talked about bringing together student organizations under concept themes which are related to service,” he said. “There’s really some powerful thoughts there and great to see the ideas being generated. We are talking about the guidance we’re receiving and looking forward to our students’ clubs being more active on the school campus.”
Moore said he also agrees about the criticisms of the Zoom classrooms.
“And I agree, as do many of us in the district administration, about the Zoom meetings being boring and frustrating, and we are all eager to get out of this situation,” he said. “This is not how we want to do it and it’s certainly getting old. Hopefully everybody continues to do their part to stem the spread of COVID-19. As our medical community marches us forward to a cure and a vaccine, we are looking forward to that moment we all come back together and do more collaborative things.”

Mendez said that, for now, student council discussed having an email document sent to all HCRHS students with weblinks to clubs and short descriptions of the activities and interests of the groups. She said it can be organized into three different documents, an email version of how the annual Activity Fair at HCRHS is set up, without being overwhelming to students reading it online.