ARISTA Launches New Initiatives for the Spring Semester

ARISTA started new virtual efforts for the spring, including Office Hours, and has continued to work on initiatives from the fall, such as the District 1 Pilot Program Initiative and partnerships with the Invisible Hands organization and other high schools.

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The ARISTA Executive Council (EC), consisting of seniors President Emma Donnelly, Vice President of Events and Service Roshni Patel, Vice President of Operations Evelyn Ma, and Vice President of Web Development May Hathaway, started new virtual efforts, such as Office Hours, in the spring semester. They are also continuing initiatives established in the fall, such as the District 1 Pilot Program Initiative and a partnership with the Invisible Hands organization.

After discussing and sharing ideas with the honors societies of the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School, ARISTA brought forth the Office Hours initiative, which is modeled after Stuyvesant’s AIS tutoring during which teachers offer additional help after school. Each day from Monday to Thursday is assigned to a certain subject area. “[Students] can just ask a question, get homework help, or test/study review, anything like that, and there’ll always be ARISTA tutors on standby for them if they need that support,” Ma said.

The initiative was created in response to the difficulty of the virtual environment. “All of us have really taken advantage of AIS tutoring, and that was typically in-person, and so [...] we decided that we wanted to create a similar environment for students to be able to ask questions after school,” Donnelly said.

Through Office Hours, ARISTA hopes to increase social interaction for students. “Our goal for Office Hours is to provide extra academic support but also to give the freshmen another avenue to meet new people, especially upperclassmen who can be a really good resource to help them,” Ma said. “This is a place where people can also create relationships.”

However, the initiative has faced difficulties in encouraging student turnout, especially among the underclassmen. “The ARISTA Office Hours initiative has been a bit of a failure, in my experience, as I’ve never tutored a single person during Office Hours in the two-month span that I’ve been doing it,” junior and ARISTA volunteer Daniel Lyalin said. “For example, I did Office Hours today for Geometry and Algebra and not a single soul showed up to my breakout room.”

Patel added, “The people we’re reaching out to are freshmen and sophomores, and some of them have spent no months in the building [...] so the thing is they’re a really hard group of people to reach right now. Our goal is to let them know that we are there for them.”

Lyalin also pointed toward the subjects that he tutors as a potential reason for the lack of students. “Perhaps people show up and I've just never been assigned one, which shows few tutees,” he said. “Perhaps the non-math and non-history days are busier.”

Additionally, ARISTA hopes to reach underclassmen through creating the Sophomore Program, where current freshmen may apply to be involved in ARISTA as sophomores, as ARISTA volunteers are currently limited to juniors and seniors. Sophomores will only be required to earn approximately half of the event credits typically required of upperclassmen, and there will be no tutoring requirements, unlike those mandated for upperclassmen. “We wanted to give underclassmen an opportunity to do service and also just learn from other peers, like upperclassmen [who are] in ARISTA already,” Donnelly said. “It’s basically a stepping stone into what an ARISTA membership would be like if you were a junior or senior, so, sophomores have significantly reduced credit requirements.”

Outside of Stuyvesant, ARISTA started a new partnership with LaGuardia High School. Volunteers from both schools virtually conduct art workshops of dance, visual arts, music, and theater to middle schoolers. “Even though ARISTA is often seen as a purely academic organization, we’ve really been trying to kind of branch out of that shell and show that there is more to ARISTA than just tutoring and academics,” Donnelly said.

Furthermore, ARISTA formed a partnership with a COVID-19 relief organization after faculty advisor of ARISTA Eric Wisotsky reached out to Invisible Hands, an organization that provides supplies and assistance to the compromised, elderly, and disabled in New York. ARISTA members can help with the call and dispatch center. “Invisible Hands is something that is super flexible for the students because they get to pick their own shifts,” Patel said. “You just get to work on your own time, and it’s an independent sort of thing.”

ARISTA is also continuing to work on initiatives set forth in the fall. The District 1 Pilot Program, which started as a partnership with PS/MS 34 to provide academic help for the Living Environment Regents to middle schoolers, has expanded to work with BELL Academy in Bayside, Queens. “Because of [the partnership with PS/MS 34], we were able to actually have a school reach out to us called the BELL Academy, which is in Bayside, and they were really interested in partnering up with us and doing the same thing,” Donnelly said. “We actually recently just created our partnership with BELL Academy, and we’ve been teaching their eighth-grade students Algebra I and Living Environment for the Regents.”

ARISTA also aims to further expand the District 1 Pilot Program by encompassing more grade levels and accommodating the needs of more students. “We’ve been able to work with two teachers. They’ve definitely done a great job with gaining students who are interested and just helping us with the planning process, so it’s great that we’ve been able to expand the program to reach more eighth grade students, and something that we want to do in the future is reach other students within the school,” Donnelly said.

In the spring, the EC hopes to host some community events, such as movie or game nights, and spearhead mental health initiatives. “With the pandemic, we obviously wanted to do as much as we could to help,” Donnelly said. “It’s part of this culture-ship with ARISTA where we want to not only be an honors society but also an organization that really meets the needs of the people in our community, and that’s both within Stuyvesant and outside of it.”