Ally Wilkinson '21
Zoom fatigue can feel real during online learning, especially with our C Day schedule, which sometimes requires hours of screen time. However, Aanya Kolli ‘24 said it best in her opening remarks during last week’s Cathedral: “Who are we at NCS? Not a classroom, not a building, and definitely not a set of Zoom sessions. NCS is a community full of supportive and inspiring people.” This has always been our mission as Vestry, and it will continue to be throughout this year, be it in a remote, hybrid, or in-person setting. Our community is too important to forget about or shift away from in times like these.
Sometimes Vestry can seem like the mysterious group of wizards behind the dark curtain. But, in fact, this is the opposite of our goal. So, how does Vestry work? Normally in the first semester, our group is made up of four sophomores, four juniors, and four seniors. By the second semester, four new freshmen join the team, bringing us to sixteen members. Seniors hold the roles of Cathedral Warden, Communications Warden, Music Warden, and Senior Warden. This year, I am proud to be Senior Warden. We start each semester by splitting up our large group into two teams led by the Senior and Junior Wardens, then divide the semester’s Chapels evenly. It tends to be more manageable working within an organized system with due dates and shared documents. The process of creating services varies from Chapel to Chapel. Sometimes we approach homilists we are eager to hear from and sometimes they reach out to us. And sometimes we have a pre-determined theme, like a holiday theme in December or a nature theme during Earth Week. In most basic terms, it’s a chicken or egg type scenario. This year none of the bulk of our planning process has changed even though we remain remote; however, we are reimagining the way we approach services in order to maintain a level of community connection even through our computer screens.
Unfortunately, due to this year’s schedule, we have fewer Chapels than we have ever had before, which limits the master calendar of hopes and dreams we have each year on Vestry. We have chosen to have more services with additional homilists so we can hear from more voices on a certain issue or topic. We will continue to highlight the talent of musicians in our community through special music performances but are willing to be flexible in adjusting service in order to highlight online music from outside artists.
As a Vestry, we have changed as well. Instead of our usual overnight retreat this summer, we opted for a remote model. We met once a week for three weeks in August including a session focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Vestry took time in recognizing what mistakes we have made in our work in the past and reconciled that the only way forward is one that actively works to be more inclusive. We are thrilled about our Latino Student Union Chapel on October 21st and already have our first GSA sponsored Chapel to recognize “The Day of Silence” later this year. We have tried to actively approach members of our community instead of waiting to hear from them. In hopes to create more transparency around our work, we are creating more moments to survey students and create feedback forms (if you have not already, please fill out the form included at the bottom of this article; it’s a running form that is checked frequently throughout the year). Being in remote learning can sometimes feel like we are living in an individual silo without being heard. It is harder to hear feedback from students in this format, but I truly commit, Vestry will continue to seek out voices and opinions we might not hear from to the best of our ability. Chapels this year might lack some of the glitz and glam of Grace Chapel, but our mission has always been to connect students through stories and spirituality, and we will continue to do that.
For reference, our Vestry members are: Ally Wilkinson (Senior Warden), Zari Garfield (Communications Warden), Audrey Twyford (Cathedral Warden), Julia Poggi (Music Warden), Zoe Bucshon (Junior Warden), Angelina Vasquez (Junior Cathedral Warden), Arya Balian (Junior Music Warden), Abby Murphy (Junior Communications Warden), Kendall Brady, Abigail Leon, Audrey Scott, and Ceylin Erkan.
Chapel Feedback Form 2020-21