Quaran-Teens: Junior Helps Fellow AP Students Stay Connected

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Sophie Bugala ('21) sets up a Zoom meeting to practice for the discussions.

Matty Rosentreter, Managing Editor

With this abrupt change in everyday life and schedules, many students find themselves in positions they’ve never been in before. Some are stressed about what this could mean for their futures, while others are using the time off to relax from the stress school can often bring. Sophie Bugala (‘21), however, is aiming to make the tumultuous times ahead an opportunity for herself and other students.

“A lot of people were excited about getting time off, and I felt like I was one of the only people who was concerned what that would mean for our education,” Bugala said. “Especially as a junior, with our AP exams and the SAT, I was worried about it.”

She reached out to other students who were in her AP Language class to see if they would be interested in starting an online version of Mr. John Zainea’s Circles of Trust. In class, it’s a way for students to speak more freely than normal class discussions about what they’re reading and the broader themes and contexts of the work.

“The basic idea right now is choosing something to read and meeting once a week on Zoom to talk about it,” Bugala said. “I like the way Mr. Zainea leads Circles of Trust, because he has prompts and questions, but it’s still very open-ended so we can get our voices heard.”

Quarantine, while a stressful time in of itself because of the global events causing it, can be a hard time because of the isolation being encouraged by the government and leading health officials. Bugala wants to help combat how students are feeling about social isolation by staying connected.

“Even though school can be really stressful, the work we do and the social interaction we get from it can be really important,” she said. “I’ve found myself missing out on the group learning we get in a school setting, and I wanted to find a way to continue that because I think that’s the way a lot of people learn best and are the most productive. Even though a lot of people have their families as a support group, it can be difficult not seeing friends and other acquaintances that make up your normal daily life outside of your home. This is a tough time for people to not have each other.”

Not only does she want to help her classmates stay connected, she wants to keep on the path of learning that students had already been following in AP Lang, developing discussion skills and new ways to look at texts.

“I hope it helps us stay connected,” Bugala said. “I also think it will help continue working our minds and making sure we stay productive and keeping up with the skills school helps us build.”

She cites Mr. Zainea’s idea of a “student of the world” as one of her inspirations about how to run these meetings.

“Mr. Zainea likes to say he wants us to be ‘students of the world,’” Bugala said. “To me, that means being aware of the effects your actions and other people’s actions have on the community around you and being updated on current events and using your skill set to make the world around you a better place. That idea is one of the most important things to think about with everything going on right now.”