"It’s a cheering, joyful thing"

A conversation on

Updates from Eighth Grade Academy

More than one month into our school year, we have reestablished our routines for learning in community. The recently released MCAS scores confirmed what we already knew: in-person instruction is significantly more effective than remote learning. We are grateful to be back in-person with all of our scholars, offering them the world-class education they deserve. As eighth grader Jason Navarro said, “It’s a cheerful, joy thing that everyone is here.”

Our mission, to prepare students for success in college and beyond, is more urgent than ever. We are focused on establishing strong school and classroom cultures wherein scholars are engaged, excited to learn, and using their voices with confidence. Teachers are leveraging the one-on-one time built into our schedules to support each student academically and emotionally in ways that align to their individual needs.

Brooke Eighth Grade Academy (8GA) scholars Damya Colon-Sierra, Adrian Estevez, and Jason Navarro provide a window into this moment as they reflect on the lows of remote learning and the highs of reuniting with friends in these highlights from their conversation with Brooke 8GA Assistant Principal Matt Magoon.

What was it like coming back to school this year?

Damya: One thing I was looking forward to was just getting a better education. Online [learning] was harder because it was through a screen, and I felt like I couldn’t get the extra support that I needed. I feel now I’m getting a better education than I was in seventh grade.

It is different, too. You have to sit down and talk to people. If you told that to someone in 2019, they would say, ‘How is that weird?’ But we have experienced the whole pandemic and being online. I got used to it fast, but the first day was weird.

Adrian: I agree. I think seeing friends and making new friends is definitely a plus of going in-person. When you’re online, you’re just looking through a screen in your house or wherever you have to be. You can’t really interact with your friends unless you saw them outside of school or after school. I feel like it was harder to learn. I’m not saying being in a comfortable space is bad, but… it was really hard to learn because I was distracted by other things.

Were you nervous about coming back to school and starting Eighth Grade Academy?

Damya: I felt nervous. Even though I have been going to Brooke my whole life, I hadn’t seen anyone in over a year. I remember the first day walking into the building. I had been in the auditorium for arts night, but this was the first time walking in and thinking, “I’m going to be here for the next 5 years.” I was nervous to see my old friends, because it felt like a new school, but not really? It was a bittersweet feeling.

Jason: The nice teachers helped me find my classrooms and let me know where I needed to be. It’s a cheering, joyful thing that everyone is here.

What is the best part about being back?

Jason: Friendship.

Adrian: Physical contact. Physical contact was a big struggle for me, I struggled because I like socializing a lot. It was really hard through online learning because it was just a screen. The only way to physically hang out with friends is after school, and I was really limited with how much I could see them. The only option was really limited…I think it’s better we are in person.

Damya: It’s way different being in person. There were people that I lost touch with, but now that we are in-person we are friends again. We’ve gained that close relationship again, that’s something I’m really grateful for.