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Together while Apart

Students together in the Dining Hall
Tabor students together in the dining hall
In person and virtual students together
Together while Apart

While the 2020 spring trimester was certainly anything but typical with students spread all over the world instead of here with us in Marion, we were able to capitalize on the meaningful connections that students and faculty developed here on the shores of Sippican Harbor from September to March. These relationships eased much of the discomfort presented by remote learning.

A real highlight of the spring was the time students spent in their advisories, a space that has historically fostered some of the closest relationships between peers and adults. Each week at a designated time, advisors and advisees convened as a group via Zoom. In many ways, the flexibility of our remote learning schedule made one-on-one connections more feasible, too. One student commented that the thing he missed the most after the school year ended was the weekly meeting with his advisory from his couch and in his pajamas!

When students and faculty returned to campus in the fall with a combination of in-person, remote and hybrid learning, the focus on providing opportunities to connect with their advisories was broadened. Each Wednesday, students and faculty now gather as a group to check in, watch the weekly chapel talk, now in a digital format, and talk about meaningful events both at school and around the world (and, there has been no shortage of newsworthy topics to discuss). Making connections with one another and exploring new ways to bring us closer together, even at a distance, is a top priority this year.

Schedules are organized so that advisories can enjoy meals together throughout the week. Lunch, always a favorite time of day, has become yet another opportunity to build relationships and bond as a group. While masks must be worn around campus throughout the day, when we share a meal—spaced apart in our new dining hall configuration—we can remove our masks and see each other more clearly.

As someone who dabbles in sarcasm, this has been a godsend for my own advisory group, as they can now tell when I am joking (at least most of the time). We have replaced the common expression “socially distanced” with “physically distanced” here on campus because, while we may be six feet apart, we are still socially connected to our advisors, friends, teachers, and teammates.

Advisory groups in their best iterations are small families within our broader community. And with increased opportunities to connect, we are leaning on each other for support and encouragement and having a lot of fun along the way. I am confident that in years to come when we look back on 2020, we will point to the relationships we built and the friendships we forged as long-lasting and positive consequences of the pandemic. As we learned last spring, peer-to-peer and student-to-advisor connections are not only meaningful when we are together, but they also are critical when we are apart.