I sit down at the appointed time and open my computer screen in Zoom and there they are, like magic, all of them, all 22 members of 7 Blue. The small thumbnails of their screens filling my screen, all in front of me in neat rows like a well-ordered classroom. Though neckties are optional, the boys are neatly dressed with their texts and notebooks at the ready. We have been looking at Reconstruction and assessing the effect it had on the four million former slaves emancipated by the Thirteenth Amendment. We start with the odious black codes, which the boys quickly see are meant to keep the freedmen in the fields, and then we turn to the Fourteenth Amendment as I project the text of Section 1 of the amendment onto their screens. This was the best part—a lively and productive discussion of citizenship, “privileges and immunities,” “due process of law,” and “the equal protection of the laws.” It was a very good class.
We’re not in the same room, of course, with some of the boys still in the city and others zooming in from elsewhere. I’m writing from the coast of Maine where four inches of snow fell last night.
There are other classes going on throughout the virtual schoolhouse, exciting lessons led by my tech-savvy colleagues as the School carries on. The orchestra boys are making music and meeting for lessons with their instrumental teachers, and even chorus is singing via Zoom. Seventh grader Ajai tells me that track coach, Tony D’itri, is leading the boys through a series of vigorous workout videos and on Thursday afternoon will be meeting virtually for their first team workout. I’m told that the baseball and lacrosse boys are similarly engaged.
All over the world, teachers are meeting their students in this way. I want you to know that we, too, have risen to meet the challenge of this moment—all of us, the boys, the teachers, the staff, everyone carrying on with their work on virtual 78th Street.
David Kersey h'98