IB community reunites through virtual game day

For the International Baccalaureate (IB) students and teachers at Bonita Vista High, having a game day represented more than just playing games. Both teachers and students feel that the online game day that took place on Sept. 26, 2020 was a great way to connect and keep in touch with others. They also felt that the event allowed them to rekindle the connection that was once lost with their peers because of distance learning, by playing various games on Google Meets.  

I think the big thing was that [the game day] allowed [students] to reconnect with other people, not just their friends, but they’re acquaintances at school,” International Baccalaureate English Higher Level 1 and 2 teacher Raymond Chhan said. “It allowed [students] to reconnect with their teachers who they may have not seen in a while.”  

Due to quarantine, BVH has turned to online video platforms to help establish communities in a safe way. These digital platforms, such as Google Meets and Zoom, allow classes and extracurriculars to continue. IB Coordinator and IB Math Analysis and Approaches Higher Level 2 teacher Jared Phelps explains that the digital platforms are ‘a teachers tool’ that is being used  in the classroom and outside the classroom.

“I chose to participate in IB game day because it’s a way to connect with everyone in a time where you can’t really see anyone else. I know a lot of people right now want to go back to school to see all their friends, but don’t want to risk getting Covid,” junior Marcello Garbo said. 

For the IB community, having a game day was not a new idea, but rather a continuation of game days that was adapted to fit the current circumstances. Phelps explains that he started hosting game days a few years ago with the goal of bringing all IB students together, as well as incoming students. The IB program has certain traits that are blended into their curriculum, with the end goal that students will learn and display the traits. Traits like ‘Balanced’ and ‘Reflective’ are what Phelps hopes students gain through game days.  

“One of the cornerstones of IB is being people who are reflective and think about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and what the value of that thing is. By me holding these activities, I’m reminding students that these are just as valuable as getting an A on your world history exam, or passing the IB English [class],” Phelps said. “There’s a whole lot more to being a human than just being successful in school and putting together the epic college application resume.”

With the same intentions in mind for the online game day, Phelps emphasizes that stress relief and having fun are now the top goals when hosting game days, due to distance learning. He also explained how the official decision to have the online game day came because he felt the announcement that SUHSD will continue on distance learning for the rest of the semester, was a heavy piece of information for the students.

A group of IB students play Werewolf, an online game made to make you be skeptical of what others say. While communicating through a google meet (left) the group went through a website to play Werewolf (right), during the IB Online Game Day that took place on Sept. 26, 2020. (Madelyn Omelina ) 

“These days [the game days] are sort of a way of recognizing that [everyone in IB] considers ourselves to be sort of a family of students and people who want to be more reflective and intentional in their learning,” Phelps said. “Game day was us recognizing that we are not just academic automatons that mechanically go through hours and hours and hours of school work everyday. We are supposed to try to be balanced people.”

Even though the event was deemed a success by participants, both Phelps and Chhan agree that communicating future events further in advance and having more teachers advertise it will bring a bigger crowd. 

After noticing that most people stuck to the same two games, leaving many of the other breakout rooms open, Phelps expresses that he would like to send a survey out asking what games people would like to play beforehand. This will allow him to make the necessary amount of breakout rooms and instructions needed for upcoming game days. 

“[Before] there were a bunch of board games that you could pick from the front [of the cafeteria], and so it was a little bit easier to explore your options,” Phelps said. “Whereas this online thing was sort of like ‘Uh, there’s a Google document], take a look at what’s there”.

Noticing the lack of juniors that attended game day, senior Rachel Cepe, believes that getting more underclassmen, especially the juniors, involved would be the best way to make the event even better. For her, junior year went really well because she had the IB community surrounding her and helping her, so she wants to help give the current juniors just as good of an experience. 

It’s a little different because we’re online. So we’re always talking to each other, the IB students, we’re always in touch [and] trying to make sure we hold each other accountable for the work. Now that we’re online, I feel like the community has gotten closer because we have to constantly be talking about assignments and deadlines,” Cepe said.

According to Phelps, anyone who is involved with the IB community at BVH can look forward to more online events such as game days, art days and possibly even baking days in the future. 

It was a really fun experience to do IB game day. It really shows the IB organization and that the IB teachers at Bonita Vista really care about all the students and the people in the program, [and want] to help them through this tough time,” Garbo said.