Part of the Virtual Culture and Climate Series – Spring 2020

Ideas contributed by the Jostens Renaissance student and educator community and shared in a Facebook Live presentation on April 13, 2020.


As parents and as educators, we have spent the majority of the last month talking ABOUT kids, but today we thought it was important that we talk TO kids.

As parents, it is important that we communicate with our children in a way that is age-appropriate about what is going on right now. Remember that young people seek out and process information differently. For example, Tara Campbell feels comfort and security in controlling how well-informed she is about the pandemic. Our son Brooks feels the opposite way – all the information is too much for him. We need to let our kids tell us what they need.

As educators, it is important that every decision we make right now is based around what is best for our students. If we aren’t allowing them to weigh in on how this is affecting them, then how can we have a complete view of what is best for them?

Today we invited students to participate and asked them several questions:

  • What has this situation been like for you emotionally?
  • If you could tell your teachers anything about distance learning, what would it be?
  • What do you miss most about being at school?
  • What do you like most about our situation right now?
  • What changes do you wish to see come out of this once everything returns to normal?
  • What advice would you give to someone having a hard time with this situation?

Elementary Students

Brooks: This situation has been super stressful, because it hasn’t happened before so I don’t know how to respond. It’s worrying. I like being in the classroom better, seeing and interacting with them, rather than waiting for a response online. I like that I can learn at my own pace instead of a set schedule. I get done a lot earlier. When I can go out again, I want to go to the neighborhood park, hang out and play.

Maddox: It’s been hard to deal with. My teacher has me doing lots of math and reading work. My favorite part of being home is that I get to take a break and watch a little bit of TV and then do more work. I’m looking forward to going to the beach.

Middle School Students

Nate: It’s been hard not socializing with friends – I’m stuck here with my college siblings. I’m a hands-on guy, it’s hard to do work on a computer. I’m not a cyber student, I need to be with someone to comprehend the subject. Mom’s been helping. Teachers are doing a good job of trying – they set up Zoom sessions to help us if we’re not grasping it, and also for fun to see each other. To a student who’s struggling, I would say talk with your family, try to make things better. Read a book. I’m most excited to socialize with my friends again. I’m getting perspective from all this.

Juliana: It’s been different, and hard to adjust to everything – not seeing my friends or playing sports. I miss being with people and getting instruction in classroom, and bouncing ideas off each other. I’ve learned I’m not a cyber student. At first it was hard to motivate myself but it got easier to get into the rhythm. Teachers are doing a good job of understanding and keeping a schedule similar to a school day. To a student who’s struggling, I would say, get outside! Be productive. I’m most excited to see people again.

High School Seniors

Anthony: The transition was easy, I’m doing all right. If I could make a suggestion, I would like to Zoom with each teacher once or twice a week, and make sure they know that our AP exams might take more time. I’d like to thank my teachers for checking in every day, that means a lot. I’ve grown up with social media and it’s not the same, seeing someone virtually vs. physically, but it’s not that bad – we’re used to FaceTime and texting each other. Besides socializing, I miss making my ceramics pieces. I feel like I’m missing out on saying goodbye to people – if I’d known it would be my last day, I would have said more goodbyes. For a sense of closure, we could still do a senior breakfast or something – we don’t need a grad night, but a late summer dance maybe, and graduation ceremony. When we can go out again, I want to go to a Dodgers game. I would advise new students to appreciate every moment, because you don’t know when it could end. I would say to a struggling student that it will all be better, we still have a future – don’t let this ruin that.

Gretchen: Remote classes are definitely different but not so negative – there are some good things. It’s hard not to see teacher every day. I would also like more Zoom meetings. I’d like to thank my teachers, advisers and coaches for working hard and sending messages – I know they feel for us, and we’re thinking of them too. Online work is helpful and teachers aren’t stressing us out too much which is good. Social media togetherness is not too bad, but the actual social interaction is missed. I’m really missing sports – tennis is my main sport, so I was excited for that my senior season. Wish I’d had a chance to say goodbye to people – didn’t know it was my last day. We didn’t realize that senior trips, prom, and graduation could be taken away from us. For a sense of closure, I’d appreciation a sense of understanding from staff and teachers – for example, staff and faculty put out a video message for the students, so we could see them all there for us.  To a new student I’d say don’t take things for granted – live every moment you can. You never know when it could be gone. When we can go out, I want to go to the beach with my friends. To a struggling classmate I’d say keep an open mind. Everything happens for a reason. We need to do what we can to make things better for ourselves, focus on what we can control, and take ownership of that.

Renaissance Resources

The Pulse – Student Recognition Survey is a brief online survey designed and validated by Search Institute that provides practical feedback schools can use to strengthen student recognition. It is designed to gather and summarize perceptions on the formal and informal ways students are recognized, encouraged and rewarded in their school. The survey provides insights into how students, parents and teachers perceive school recognition and also has an option to add up to 10 custom questions. One of the most interesting results we’re seeing is the gap between teacher and student perspectives on how well students feel recognized. Ask your Jostens rep or visit the Pulse page for more details or to set up a survey.

Virtual Culture and Climate Series – Each episode in this series has a post with the main ideas and resources shared during the presentation. Topics have included:

Food Distribution

Building Connections

Graduation: Protect the Ceremony

Distance Learning: Challenges and Solutions

Remote Learning Daily Check-In Prompts

Graduation: Variations on the Physical Ceremony


Renaissance Leadership Curriculum Lesson: Emotional Wellness

Jostens customers have access to our full Leadership Curriculum – 9 units and over 80 lessons for leadership classes or fit into any subject matter to explore leadership skills. This lesson on Emotional Wellness was designed for classroom use but can easily be adapted to be several distance learning projects, including an Emotional Wellness Spirit Week.

Download Emotional Wellness Sample Lesson

Download Measuring My Emotional Wellness Worksheet


Examples of Students Reaching Out to Each Other

Bethel High School’s Senior Leadership Class Lip Dub (shared by Rick Morton)

Stewarts Creek High School Class of 2020 Video (shared by Teresa Campbell) 

Virtual Assembly at Gresham High School (shared by Melissa Wright) 

Student Spotlight Videos (here’s one example) at Kingman Academy High School (shared by Eric Lillis)

Virtual Choir Concert at Lancaster High School


Next Episodes:

Graduation Friday – Featuring 4 guests:

  • Jostens rep Justin Ray to talk about importance of getting caps and gowns into seniors’ homes
  • Principal at Heritage High School Shameka Gerald to talk about administrators’ role in graduation decision-making
  • Senior student at Saginaw High School Janice Kankolongo to talk about the senior perspective
  • Special musical performance

Next Monday: Staffulty Appreciation. Teachers are struggling as well – their hearts are breaking, they miss those daily interactions with their kids. Also, the transition to virtual learning may well be harder on the adults than the students.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Hellen Keller


How are your students sharing their perspective? Email links and a brief description to [email protected].


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