The Charter News
Twelve year old Levi Reynolds was at home without much to do after schools closed due to COVID-19. This resulted in him creating a group chat on Google Hangouts, which ended up having 167 members.
“I made it because I was bored,” says Levi. It started out with around 12 kids from ACA that he knew, and one former ACA student— Max Schimmelbusch.
Levi says he and 8th-grader David Shulikov, “just added everyone we knew.” At its peak, the chat, which is currently titled “ACA Students,” had 167 students of all grade levels, mostly ACA students. Many students have since left the group, presumably because hundreds of notifications a day gets annoying pretty quickly. As of April 9th, there are 86 students remaining.
On April 4th, a few students created another chat due to technical difficulties one student was encountering, and now there are multiple chats, somewhere between three and six, including “the people chat,” and “I’m sorry what,” which have 52 and 48 remaining members. However, only the first two chats are being used as of April 9th.
Google Hangouts was previously disabled on ACA student emails, but after school closed, it was enabled, making it easier for teachers and students to communicate. Levi says that most of the people on the original chat are using their student email addresses, but that a few people are using their personal emails, or both. “It’s just us talking about school, homework, and classes,” says Levi.
ACA’s Director, Seanna Bloemer, acknowledged the value of students connecting through Google Hangouts in her April 5th weekly update: “We realize that social connection among our students is very important and can be positive when there is parent oversight and clearly established expectations for appropriate online behavior,” she says.
Bloemer, Seanna. “Re: Weekly Update.” Received by Madalena Larkins. 6 Apr. 2020.
Reynolds, Levi. Personal interview. Apr. 2 2020.