Stuffed animals, crazy hats, sports gear: Theme days liven up Google Meets

The+class+picks+a+festive+fall+background+for+their+Google+Meet+class.

Lindsay Bonetti

The class picks a festive fall background for their Google Meet class.

By Lindsay Bonetti, Baldwin High School - PA

In a year marked by smaller classes, emptier hallways, and countless Google Meets, a group of Spanish class students are bringing a little excitement back to their wearisome days.

Every day for the past several weeks, Spanish teacher Rebecca Michalski’s sixth period Spanish III students, led by those in Group 1, have held their own class theme days.

The tradition started simply enough, when sophomore Brady Zofcin showed up to the class Google Meet one day wearing a crazy hat. He never expected that others on the Google Meet would grab their own crazy hats to wear.

“Honestly, at first I was just bored,” Zofcin said. “Now it’s fun, so I want to try to make this go the whole year. I have a list of like 15 ideas we still have to do.”

Junior Abigail Herrle said the theme days help break up the routine of school during the pandemic.

“It’s really just a little fun thing,” Herrle said. “It gives me something to look forward to when going to Spanish.”

Sophomore Bobby Benton agreed.

“I like doing this because it makes the class easier,” Benton said. “It gives us something to talk about when we’re there.”

After the crazy hat day, other theme days followed, from wearing Baldwin apparel and Pittsburgh sports gear to actually putting on sports helmets. For that sports helmet day, Herrle put on her swim cap for class.

“The sports helmets day was 100 percent my favorite,” Herrle said.

Some days the class does not wear themed shirts or accessories. Instead, they pick a patterned background for the Google Meet or bring a favorite item of theirs to class.

One day, everyone brought their favorite stuffed animal into class. Michalski said she loved that day in particular.

“When the crew can get me the theme in advance, I love to participate,” Michalski said. “I did participate in stuffed animal day because I had a finger puppet llama I could use.”

Another recent theme day was “bring your pet to class” via Google Meet, with students joining the Meet accompanied by their pets.

Every night the class debates about what the next day’s theme should be.

“We have a group chat, so we FaceTime to figure out what it will be,” junior Lenina Ebert said. “We like to do even more extreme stuff on online days.” 

In a school year where most students join Google Meets but keep their cameras turned off, the theme day project has made this class a different experience.

“It’s the only thing that makes me turn on my camera for online class,” Benton said.

Michalski said the theme days have been a delightful addition not just to her class, but to her day too.

“I look forward to sixth period every day,” Michalski said. “It makes my afternoons more interesting and breaks up my day.”

The themes also have improved morale and success in the class, she said.

“I like that they are working so well together as a group. It makes classes much more enjoyable,” Michalski said.

This story was originally published on Purbalite on November 20, 2020.