Xaverian’s Communications Corps is taking a look at the bright side of social distancing and REAL/X.
Written by Jason Sgroi ’20

The past few weeks have been hectic for everybody, and I’m sure it has caused us all a lot of stress. The launch of REAL/X has allowed for online learning, but teachers have had to learn a whole new teaching system, and students have had to work to adapt to these changes. With so much going on, it can be hard to find any positives to take out of this experience. But I think there are a few positives in my life that are noteworthy that others may be experiencing as well. The first positive that I have noticed is that I have been able to spend more time with my family. We are essentially trapped in the house together, but rather than get annoyed at the situation, I think that we have all enjoyed spending a little extra time together playing board games and hanging out. I have also found that I have been able to stay connected with friends even though we cannot see each other. I have been playing a lot of Xbox and have begun to play with many kids that I am friends with but have never played online with before. Those are just two small examples of positives that I have taken away from this experience, but they have helped me see a little bit of light in this dark situation.

There is also one positive that I think will have the greatest impact on me through my learning at REAL/X. This is the fact that my online learning is preparing me for college in a few ways. The first way is that I do not have as much structure in my day, so rather than being forced to do work from 8:15-2:26, it is up to me to find time in my day for learning and homework. While I will have structured classes in college, I will have a less structured day and will have to make sure I allot some time in my day for school and other times for fun. My online learning experience has also taught me how to deal with a new workload. I have found that my teachers have been assigning a lot of work to be done by the end of the week, rather than assigning nightly homework. In college, I expect to have a lot of bigger, longer-term projects, so learning how to deal with that before I get to college is crucial. REAL/X is showing me how important it is not to procrastinate on these longer assignments, and I believe that will be a huge benefit to me as I go to college. Overall, I believe that this time we are spending at home will benefit me in the long run, especially as it prepares me for college.

Written by Ryan Sbordon ’20

Personally, one aspect of REAL/X that I have enjoyed is the amount of down time I have everyday. Despite school still being in session, the administration has done a fantastic job at easing our stress levels during this difficult time. This has come in the form of breaking up the schedule into slightly longer, yet more sporadic classes, with just four each day and plenty of time to reset in between. The teachers have welcomed this change, being more active than ever and always available for questions and further help. And of course, I’m sure none of us will complain about the influx of freedom that we have from being in the comfortable confines of our lovely homes. Sweatpants and a t-shirt during class? No problem. Grabbing a quick bite to eat at any point throughout the day? Go for it. Watching Netflix between periods? No one is going to stop you. 

Just a few short weeks ago, no one could have foreseen a circumstance in which we can only see our fellow classmates through the screen of our computers. As the COVID-19 outbreak ensues, it is our job as students to embrace the “new normal” and to continue our cooperation with our wonderful faculty. While school, athletics, and extracurriculars typically take up a significant portion of our day, we can now use this time to relax, pick up a hobby, or simply enjoy the company of our loved ones. Though the change has shocked many of us, it is important to utilize this opportunity to be around our families and appreciate the effort put in to making this all run smoothly. 

Stay safe and strong, Hawks. 

Written by Matt O’Halloran ’21

The biggest advantage of online learning is the ability to freelance. During normal school days, I know I have to set my alarm at a certain time, leave my house at a certain time, get to homeroom at a certain time, go to a specific class at a certain time, and so on. During online learning, almost every period is an unstructured period. I can basically wake up whenever I want because English has been the only class meeting in real-time, so I do not have to be at an exact location right at 8:28 then another right at 9:13. I can work on Spanish during the time I would normally be in theology, or eat lunch an hour before or after I normally would at school. 

There can be downsides to freelancing: some people might get too tempted to play Xbox or watch YouTube all day just because there is no teacher there to make sure they are in class. For upperclassmen with good time management skills, it probably is not a problem, but for younger students, (and not just at Xaverian), it should force them to learn how to structure time. My teachers have been posting assignments with a brief video explaining how to do it, and they do not care when or where we do it, they just want us to do it before it is due. So, even though there are still blocks, there is much more freedom than in school. The ability to plan out my day how I want is by far the best thing about online school. 

Written by Nick Daoust ’21

I have seen it twice now—the image of a bright yellow claw machine filled to its plexiglass walls with rolls of hoarded toilet paper— first on Instagram, then on CNN. A few days into our collective quarantine, more demoralizing content like this started being recommended to me, and now it’s all I see when I unlock my phone, or turn on the news: videos of commuters disinfecting turnstiles before hurdling them, algorithmically-compiled social distancing memes, flurries of tepid statements from local and national officials. In the car, I swipe through today’s alerts numbly while my mom drives to the Stop & Shop a couple towns over. She already checked the store closer to our house, but it was out of milk. Hand fumbling for the Purell while we stall at a red light, she tells me that, as she left, she caught a woman wearing two coats, a face mask, and a winter scarf which concealed her face entirely. Her cart was an avalanche of dairy and other perishables, nothing she’d be able to finish before the expiration dates. The image further speaks to a looming paranoia—it looks like what we all, at times, have felt about our “new normal.”

So at Stop & Shop, I prepare for the worst—people fighting over toilet paper, raided shelves, the full gamut of what I’ve already seen on the internet. Suffice it to say, it is anything but. In the bread aisle, the lion lays down with the lamb—six feet apart, maybe, but amiable nonetheless. By the dairy products, a woman sneezes; a chorus of “bless you” follows, not the panicked stampede I was expecting. At the magazine stand, the Stop & Shop robot gets caught on a display of romance novels—when my mom takes its metal body in her hands and redirects it, another shopper and I laugh together. We do the rest of our shopping unperturbed and check out. I have had hundreds of grocery store visits identical to this one, and, just as when I listen to the Morning Hawk’s announcements on IGTV or tune into a favorite class over Google Meet, I am comforted in its unlikely familiarity. Whether through Xaverian’s REAL/X program or a simple grocery store run, I am forever being surprised by how, even in crisis, the world, invariably, stays spinning. Perhaps the most positive thing about our “new normal” is that, when the news cuts to commercial or your phone battery dies, it isn’t all that far from what normal used to be. 

Written by Spencer Daniszewski ’21
Due to the social distancing guidelines and our REAL/X remote learning, I am outside more often. Before this, I didn't make much of an effort to get outside often because I would naturally get exercise with friends. But now, since being with friends in person is generally not recommended, I need to make more of an effort to be outside. My family and I are taking daily walks in order to get outside and exercise for the time being. They range in distance, being anywhere from one to four miles. 
I really enjoy these walks because the time is spent with my family and my two dogs (who need the exercise as well) without any distractions, such as technology. Because some of the walks are so long, I am actually outside more now than I was before, which is obviously good. I could easily see myself retaining this habit even when this is all over and our regular lives are back.

A private, Catholic, college preparatory day school for boys in grades 7-12. The Boston area prep school offers a rigorous academic curriculum, a well-developed campus ministry program focused on faith, character, and leadership, and a proud athletic tradition featuring competitive Division 1 high school athletics in the Catholic Conference.