A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Virtual Open House

Thunderbird’s 2020-2021 annual Open House looked a little different this year than the years in the past. Instead of being able to introduce our parents to our teachers in-person, we settled for virtual clips of our teachers providing us and our parents with information regarding our classes. While this was not the same experience as Open Houses in the past, the amazing English teacher, Title I Coordinator, and Varsity Girls Volleyball and Tennis Coach, Mrs. Whitehead and the rest of the Thunderbird staff worked their hardest to create an involving, educational, and fun experience for both students and their guardians.

The event took place on August 27th at 6:30 PM. Parents were emailed a “THS Open House” link which contained all of the information and steps for the night. Parents were to go through these steps, getting the chance to “meet” their childrens’ teachers, the Thunderbird staff, and the various clubs and sports at Thunderbird. After going through the 4 steps, the final step was to have parents complete a survey about their experience throughout the night. When asked about the event, junior Kailey Smith states, “My parents thought that it was well done, despite the crazy and unexpected times we are all living in.” A bonus of this event being portrayed through a website is that parents are able to continue to reference it all throughout the year.

While this year’s Open House was virtual, that does not mean it was easier to plan. When asked about organizing the night, Mrs. Whitehead, the lead organizer of the event, states, “I would say it took about 30 to 40 hours just for me to build the website and embed everything.” Every employee at Thunderbird played a significant role. Each teacher made their own video introducing themselves to their students and their guardians. They only had within a week to create their videos, which was tough for many. Mrs. Whitehead explains, “The time frame was tight for me because downloading each video and then uploading to YouTube was a lengthy process.” The administrators screened every single video, which took up a ton of time for them as well. She also explains, “The hardest part was building the website, making it perfect with no errors, and uploading all of the videos to YouTube and then embedding them into the site!” As one can see, this whole process was far from simple and convenient, but Mrs. Whitehead and staff members were able to achieve an aesthetic and orderly site for the night.

Thankfully, the hard work that was put into creating the event paid off. According to Mrs. Whitehead, she received, “…a lot of positive feedback, both from our campus and from the district.” If you recall, the final step, “Step 5”, was to complete a survey all about the Open House. Mrs. Whitehead disclosed that she received about 150 responses which she says is a “good start.”

All in all, even though our Open House took a different form this year, it is important to be grateful for all the amazing individuals who helped make this night possible, despite the given circumstances. Hopefully soon, us students will actually be able to meet our teachers. One day, we will all look back at this time and think, “Wow. I lived through that.” Stay strong, positive, grateful, and kind. You got this.