Goodbye Virtual Stuyvesant

As this year like no other comes to a close, one can’t help but reflect upon the past 15 months of our lives, spent trying to make the most out of a virtual high school experience.

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As this year like no other comes to a close, one can’t help but reflect upon the past 15 months of our lives, spent hunching over laptop screens, maintaining a semi-nocturnal sleep schedule, and trying to make the most out of a virtual high school experience. The Spectator’s Editorial Board was filled to the brim with thoughts about the concepts, classes, and institutions that made our remote stint what it was. So, here are a few of those thoughts.

Virtual PE

Yes, that’s right. You are panting alone in a room, incapacitated by the strain of 50 consecutive jumping-jacks. Well, technically you are not alone––there is a computer on the desk across from you, and on the screen, you can see the random thrashing of the limbs of 30 other adolescents. “High knees!” booms a mighty voice. There is an acute, screeching lag––PE folk stick by their Google Meets. “No slacking!” After the high knees, your teacher demands that you “get down on the floor.” It’s plank time. You follow the order and get on the floor. But you just sit there. In a way, it is like the mindfulness videos that your teacher is in the habit of screening at the start of class in that you are sitting completely inert. But unlike in the mindfulness videos, there is no rippling water backtrack and no calm-yet-firm male voice instructing you to “Relax your kneecaps.” You are also wondering, as you sit on the ground waiting for the hardcore people to finish planking, why it was that people looked at you so weirdly when you shared your answer for the “Question of the Day” that your teacher uses for attendance. The question today was “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?” Your answer included something along the lines of “really big crush” and “jumped into pool when I didn’t know how to swim,” not that you remember the details of what you said. At the time, it seemed like a solid answer, so you don’t know what the big problem was. But there’s no more time to think––time for 25 warrior lunges.

Five out of five stars.

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms are the bane of our existence in the Zoom world. In the best case scenario, you encounter someone you know, and you do anything but the task at hand. Most of the time, however, you’re with a stranger. Even in this case, you still are not going to actually do the tasks. You will dance a ballet of pain with your breakout room roommates, in which minutes of silence take turns with small talk that is somehow worse. On rare occasions, breakout rooms get the job done. Maybe there’s an extra boisterous participant who carries the discussion, or you somehow manage to work together for the allotted two minutes. Then, you leave and can go back to pretending to have never interacted with each other again. As an added bonus, your teachers have permission to enter any breakout room they want, exposing your unproductivity and your lack of social skills. Maybe you even earn a shoutout in class.

Two out of five stars.

Advanced Placement Exams

Many students did not have the opportunity to take AP exams in-person this year. When it was announced that full-length digital AP exams were an option, it sounded like a more fair alternative to the shortened version we took in 2020.

But that joy was short-lived. Nothing could’ve prepared us for…

Calculus exams with no useful mathematical symbols. Exponent and subscript options were given. The entire Greek alphabet was given. But there was no calculus symbol in sight. Where was the integral? There was no limit to this foolishness.

History exams that did not test historical knowledge. The questions were written in meandering sentences and bizzare wording. It did not matter if you knew your textbook inside-out; AP history exams became AP Reading Comprehension.

Epic tales of AP digital exam failures trail on, but the most noteworthy crime was more subtle. To stem cheating and prevent mass-googling, students could not turn to previous questions or look at questions in advance. To what end?

For many, this year’s exams are almost as disastrous as the last.

Two out of five stars.

The Spectator

The Spectator is superfluous at best and deleterious at worst. News frequently publishes slander against the hardworking teachers of Stuyvesant and staff editorials in which high schoolers tell administrators how to do their jobs. Naive Opinions writers regurgitate the latest New York Times article and restate for the millionth time why Trump is indeed bad. Arts and Entertainment makes it more than clear how much they love Marvel and anime and why the latest Taylor Swift album is actually really deep. Humor couldn’t make Jimmy Fallon laugh. Science is about as thrilling as a biology textbook. Sports notifies us of yet another disappointing early playoff exit. And Features exists solely to spam the Dear Incoming Class of… Facebook groups. At least The Spectator gives writers and editors something to do on Sunday at 2:00 a.m.

Three out of five stars.

9:00 a.m. Start Times

Teachers and students rejoiced when they learned they could wake up an hour later prior to this pandemic year. This change will hopefully continue into next year, which will allow more time for sleep and to complete homework, with the exception of PSAL complications. No longer will Stuyvesant students continue or start their coffee addictions or nap through the first five periods. Imagine a better Stuy with alert and well-rested students. Perhaps nothing is so deserving of five out of five stars. If only it made logistical sense.

Our Seniors

Hey seniors. We want to acknowledge that you were, so to speak, shafted, and more so than any other grade. We don’t need to recount all your misfortunes, but why not? That recap will make this portion of the editorial seem more substantial. Your last proper day of high school was a random Friday in March of 2020, when you were juniors. You didn’t receive any of the expected benefits of senior year or even have anything remotely (sorry, bad phrasing) close to a senior year. You had none of the socialization, you didn’t have a senior prank or a skip day, and you didn’t even get to intimidate freshmen out of the senior atrium. You were robbed of integral senior experiences. We want you to know that your pain is—well, it’s not our pain, but we sure do recognize it. You achieved something seriously impressive under highly adverse circumstances. We wish you the best, wherever you may be headed.

Five out of five stars and an extra half of a star because we feel bad.