The Stuyvesant Simulation Project
Reading Time: 4 minutes
With the current state of the pandemic, it is no surprise that many Stuyvesant students have chosen to go fully remote through November. However, a fully remote classroom does inconvenience both students and instructors in several ways. During an exclusive Student Leadership Team (SLT) meeting held last Monday (attended clandestinely by several undercover Humor correspondents), Principal Seung Yu began by expressing his concerns for the approaching school year: “Students won’t be able to interact with their peers nor will they be able to enjoy the amenities that Stuyvesant has to offer. Teachers will no doubt have a harder time keeping their students on task especially with the abundance of household distractions present.” As a solution to this issue, Yu unveiled his plan, The Stuyvesant Simulation Project (SSP), as “the most innovative solution to date in regards to achieving a smooth transition for all high school students during these uncertain times.”
However, with a project as large of a scale as SSP, changes will have to be made in small steps. Yu plans to kick off the program by selecting a single grade for a trial run: the freshmen. “Freshman year,” Yu explained, “was definitely one of the most impactful, memorable, and traumatizing years of my life. I don’t think anything could ever replace that.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that could ever replace the shame of my football team hazing. Oreos in the butt cheeks? I couldn’t get the crumbs out for days. What a memory,” student representative Freddie Backfield added. Thus, SSP aims to put special focus on accommodating the incoming freshmen this year so as to give them a bona fide experience of Stuyvesant.
The project will be in collaboration with the acclaimed virtual reality multiplayer game, VRChat. “With SSP,” Yu stated, “all freshmen will be able to experience the beauty of the Stuyvesant building. The simulated world was created by a team of technologically competent drafting students, and I believe that they have truly captured the essence of Stuy with their design. There’s trash all over the virtual half-floor, and the simulated escalators don’t work. In my opinion, the artificial gum and pen marks on the desks in History teacher David Hanna’s room truly gives the simulated Stuyvesant building an authentic feel.” Students will also be able to choose from a variety of premade avatars, including one that closely resembles Assistant Principal of Security/Health and Physical Education Brian Moran, to better express themselves in online interactions. Furthermore, Yu noted, “Students proficient in Blender will also be able to use models they make themselves. This ability not only eliminates the issue with body image that’s been amplified by the sedentary quarantine life but also means that those who would prefer to attend school as Hatsune Miku or buff Pikachu are fully able to do so.”
When questioned about the immense cost of such a project, Yu informed meeting attendees that Stuyvesant will be providing all freshmen with a VR headset, proper body tracking equipment, and a stair treadmill. He declined to elaborate on where the funding for the technology would come from, but an anonymous Ms. Shamazov told the Humor department that the administration had stolen and sold all the pianos. When presented with this information, Yu replied, “Uhh, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The money is from somewhere else. Can we move on? Please? I’m not hiding anything. I promise.”
The SLT meeting ended with a live demonstration of SSP’s capabilities, where all meeting attendees (including the aforementioned undercover Humor correspondents) were invited to attend SSP’s demo class. The simulated classroom was hosted by computer science teacher Topher Mykolyk. As per Mykolyk’s plan, attendees were placed in the simulated computer lab with the same lesson plan and Do Now activity that Mykolyk traditionally assigns on the first day of classes to his students: students were instructed to “look up yonder Hudson and ponder life’s big questions” by the window overseeing the Hudson River in his classroom.
However, it seemed that there were still several bugs in the system. The crotches of student avatars frequently became dislocated and flipped upside down. When looking over yonder, a fellow student demo participant by the name of Lisa Simpson quickly became frustrated, saying “Sorry, Mr. Mykolyk. The river isn’t really loading for me. I think I gotta change my render distance.” Even more peculiar, rising sophomore Timothy Yang managed to glitch into the 11th-floor pool by leaning too close to the window. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see enough to provide substantial responses to our interviewers because the glitch was quickly detected by Moran, who promptly disconnected him.
When questioned about the existence of the 11th-floor pool, Moran refused to give a straightforward answer and quickly changed the subject: “Who decided to add this floor? It’s not like it’s real or anything!” In addition, many of the custom student avatars were stuck in a T-pose and lacked walking animations. Instead, their avatar would eerily levitate with arms outstretched at its sides.
Mykolyk commented in an interview after the demo class that “It’s fairly difficult to recognize who’s who here. All I see are a bunch of anime cat girls and Ugandan Knuckles avatars. To be fair, though, they’re cool as heck. I’m enjoying my Hatsune Miku avatar. Just call me Hatsune Mikolyk.”
Despite the unprecedented issues, Yu intends to work hard with the VRChat team to minimize bugs and to ensure that SSP is ready to launch for late September: “I’ve invested far too much time (and stolen piano money) into this project to turn back now.”
“Finishing the project on time is especially important because I’m almost done with my custom avatar. Frankly, I’m quite impressed with myself. My avatar is, as the kids today like to say, ‘hella lit.’” If all goes successfully for the incoming freshmen, Principal Yu plans to expand SSP to the rest of the student body.