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Building Community Virtually: All-School Meeting Recap

Photo of  Seattle Academy 2020 Virtual All School Meeting Student Speakers

Student Speakers: London Carandang '26 and Kiki Caputo 22

Life at Seattle Academy is beyond what happens in the physical or digital classroom. We are home to a vibrant community of students pushing themselves in areas of interest, trying new things, taking risks, and building meaningful relationships. 

The first All-School Meeting of the 2020-21 school year, held virtually on September 14, allowed our students to join together remotely and share in a schoolwide meeting experience. As our routines and daily schedules for the start of the school year are taking shape, it’s pivotal for our faculty, staff, and students to pause and dedicate time to a shared experience with one another. We’re proud of our two student speakers. They highlighted the importance of forming healthy connections within our school community. As we adhere to physical distancing, our community connections and collaborations will continue. 

LONDON CARANDANG 26

Welcome, everyone, to SAAS! My name is London Carandang, I'm in 7th grade, and this is my second year at SAAS. Being here at SAAS for my second year, I know how important community is, especially now during hard times like this. Though we have not seen each other in person, we still have a sense of community, as proven by all of us being here right now. SAAS is not only a school but a large community that can and will get through this despite the weird year ahead. Speaking of community, the teachers and staff here at SAAS are a big part of why school will be possible. My teachers last year were kind, supportive, encouraging, and whenever something was hard for me, my teachers would make sure to make time to help me better understand concepts that I was struggling with. On the bright side, this will be our second run at SAAS with online school, so, fortunately, we will only be going up from here! So thank you to all of our teachers and staff for all you have done. And an even bigger thank you to my wifi! 

Now society has been through pandemics before, maybe not this large, but we have gotten through them. Remember the Spanish flu? Well, I don't, probably because I was not alive; however, when I looked up "the Spanish flu," It lasted a couple of years, and it infected 500 million people! This was definitely a challenge, and there have been other challenges like the great depression, but we are here today with a new challenge, and we will get through this!

Getting back to that sense of community, we all know about the death of George Floyd. There are many African Americans in our SAAS community, and I personally can't begin to imagine fear for your life every day as well as deal with daily racism. I can, however, help raise awareness of civil rights and BLM movements. I have gone to a protest, written many different pieces to different people, and gone to a couple of zoom calls about BLM. I would like to let everyone know that SAAS is a safe place for all community members. To keep the community strong, I recommend that everyone join clubs, stay ready for school, and stay connected to teachers. Hopefully, we will soon have another social justice Zoom meeting to really remember that movements like BLM are not trends; it is not over, and we can still help! Now to end with a more positive note, sooner or later, we will get back on campus, but for now, we can enjoy Zoom! 

KIKI CAPUTO 22 

Hello, my name is Kiki, and I am a junior here at SAAS. I know this year is drastically different than past years, and it can be difficult to feel together at such an odd time of being remote. I am sure the stress of COVID has affected everyone here today and some more than others. In times like these, it is crucial to come together and help our community. 

A few months ago, I noticed that unhealthy relationships permeated our middle school and high school communities. So, I started working with One Love, a foundation that focuses on educating young adults about healthy and unhealthy relationships and empowering them to identify and avoid abuse. We have all taken some version of a health class, and let’s face it there is a lot of content to cover, and unfortunately, educating us on healthy relationships does not always make the cut even though it is incredibly important to our current and future lives. To address this issue, I thought I would start with our education. I took this problem to the SAAS administration, and my background with One Love gave me the resources and tools necessary for addressing this problem within our community. 

I decided this issue was really important to me. I can understand how it may feel overwhelming to highlight an area of improvement when talking to the administration, especially in the era of COVID when you can’t just walk into Conner’s office. But, if there is anything I have learned from SAAS and their response to COVID is that it is still possible to educate people on important issues even when we are not attending school on campus. My decision to educate students on consent and healthy and unhealthy relationships was no exception. If there is something you want to improve about our community, I encourage you to come up with a plan and take action because at the end of the day, knowing that I could protect even just one member of our community from mistreatment, abuse, or assault makes all of my work worth it. I found my passion and adapted it to fit current needs; I challenge you to find your passion no matter the restrictions.

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