When Bronx Science students imagine a traditional Homecoming, they think of gold and green streamers hanging in the cafeteria in bountiful strips and music echoing from the lobby. Any alumnus or alumna can envision Vector the Wolverine running the same laps around the gym they had once frequented, followed by choruses of cheers and impromptu chants. At Bronx Science, unlike at other schools, Homecoming is not a dance, but a memorable, informal celebration held once a year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break. Even though the setting for Homecoming 2020 was virtual this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the essentials of it remained unchanged.
Each year, the Senior Council is responsible for coordinating this memorable day, which involves strenuous planning for weeks before the event itself. “The idea that we must host Homecoming virtually this year was pretty immediate. We realized that it was unlikely that Homecoming could happen in-person. Most, if not all of us on the Senior Council, were attending school remotely in early October, anyway,” said Avery Look ’21.
Moving to an online platform for Homecoming meant not just rethinking the typical attributes of the event such as performances and the presence of the Wolverine mascot, but almost completely reimagining what Homecoming should be. “The Senior Council decided on hosting the event on Remo. Most of us were familiar with it, either from Project Accepted or the Club Fair, so it seemed like the most feasible option. I was worried about the event being hectic, from my previous experiences on Remo,” said Look.
Remo is an online platform similar to Zoom. It can hold hundreds of users at once and those participants can choose their breakout rooms. Despite Look’s initial concerns, Homecoming 2020 ran perfectly in the platform. Members of the Senior Council set up a channel for any alumni struggling to get their bearings on the site; any issues were handled professionally and efficiently.
This can partially be credited to the organized nature of the event. With the platform Remo, alumni could choose to move to “floors,” each separated for the departments of teachers who were present. The “lobby” was designated for friends to reunite. Alumni could then decide which “tables” within those floors to attend. Through an online setting, not only was the Senior Council able to host the event, but more alumni actually attended than usual. “I really liked how Homecoming 2020 was done virtually, because it made it more accessible. There was no three hour transportation time needed to get to Bronx Science from around the city. It was also safe, given that we’re in the midst of a pandemic,” said Nancy Chen ’20.
One tradition that many looked forward to was the free T-shirts that all of the alumni would receive. This year the tradition continued, and all the alumni had to do was place their address in a Google Form. The Bronx Science Parents’ Association was generous enough to fund the costs for this endeavor.
One challenge that the Senior Council faced was giving alumni an incentive to attend. Usually, Homecoming is held over Thanksgiving break when nearly all alumni would be back in New York City with free time available during the holiday break. However, since most colleges and universities are holding the majority of their courses online this year, conflicting schedules for some alumni provided to be a difficulty. Some alumni may have also initially felt disheartened by the virtual format of Homecoming.
To remedy this, the Senior Council brainstormed ideas for incentives to attend, and they chose to hold a raffle. “We entered the name of every homecoming attendee into a raffle, where they had the chance to win a free dessert basket or a pair of Airpods. Teachers got to participate in a raffle as well,” said Look. Their efforts worked, as hundreds of Class of 2020 alumni attended this year’s virtual Homecoming.
Homecoming is a time for Bronx Science alumni to revel in their Wolverine pride. Despite the disconnect often felt within the boundaries of a Zoom screen, Chen found that the spirit was not at all lost. “It was really nice to be able to talk to teachers who I haven’t talked to or seen in a long time, since school shut down for in-person learning last March 2020 in the Spring of our senior year. I enjoyed talking to Ms. Li, my former Mathematics teacher, because it reminded me of all of the times that I would attend her office hours and talk about random things. She’s a great listener and gives awesome advice. Talking to her always makes me happy. It was nostalgic,” said Chen.
In a time where personal connection must be valued more than ever due to social distancing mandates, Bronx Science’s Virtual 2020 Homecoming allowed for genuine sparks of friendship to fly freely. “We hoped to reconnect students with their teachers, coaches, and counselors, uniting and healing many of the relationships that COVID-19 had abruptly ended. The motivation behind the event made all of the planning beforehand worth it,” said Zoya Garg ’21, Senior Council President.
Each virtual table was filled with grinning faces as alumni and teachers laughed over past experiences. Alumni exchanged emails with one another and anecdotes from college life during the pandemic, and they gave each other metaphorical hugs. Bronx Science’s Virtual 2020 Homecoming proved to be a resounding success; it was an an evening that the Class of 2020 alumni would cherish for a long time to come.
“It was really nice to be able to talk to teachers who I haven’t talked to or seen in a long time, since school shut down for in-person learning last March 2020 in the Spring of our senior year. I enjoyed talking to Ms. Li, my former Mathematics teacher, because it reminded me of all of the times that I would attend her office hours and talk about random things. She’s a great listener and gives awesome advice. Talking to her always makes me happy. It was nostalgic,” said Nancy Chen ’20.