T.S. Boyd Elementary/Jr. High School seventh and eighth graders held a live video chat with Krista Hawkinson’s fourth-grade students from Westwood Elementary School in Wisconsin. T.S. Boyd teacher Holly Rivers said the event was scheduled in advance and fell during the “Read Across America” week.
“Allen Taylor, the network administrator for the county [school system], brought it to my attention. A lot of our kids don’t have the access to technology that maybe some other schools have, and I felt like it would be a good way to branch out and see what life is like outside of Alabama,” Rivers said. “We tend to live in our own little world, and I felt like it would be really good for T.S. Boyd to get some recognition because we have great students, we have great teachers, and we do use technology. I just wanted to promote our school and our students because they deserve it.”
Rivers’ class, which was a mixture of approximately 40 junior high students, was the only classroom in the state that participated in the video conversation Thursday by using Google hangouts — an instant messaging/video chat program. Before beginning the live chat, Rivers handed out materials to students and explained why the day’s event is so important.
“You are the only kids in the entire state of Alabama that are getting to do this today. That’s awesome. So, you all represent us well. You not only represent our school, but you also represent our state,” Rivers said. “You are the only group, and I wanted you all to have an opportunity to do it.”
Students greeted each other in unison with a loud “Hello,” followed by each school’s introductions. The Wisconsin fourth graders gave brief reviews about books they’ve recently read, and then Boyd students gave their reviews in return. During the question-and-answer portion of the conversation, the students’ reactions to the different climate and weather patterns were that of shock and amazement.
A student answered one of the questions relating to Alabama weather by saying, “Our weather is weird though. This past Sunday it was 75 degrees and later that night we had ice. People joke that you can experience all four seasons in one week here in Alabama.”
Wisconsin students also asked about the number of tornadoes Alabama receives and how hot or cold it gets in the winter and summer months.
Hawkinson informed T.S. Boyd students that they spent about 53 days in their area where the temperature didn’t rise above 0 degrees, and the coldest day for them this year was where the temperature almost reached negative 50 degrees, after factoring in the windchill. Rivers replied by saying Wisconsin’s average high of 80 degrees in the summer would be considered a low average for Alabama’s summer temps.
Nicholas Meadows, 13, and Jessica Reynolds, 14, enjoyed their time spent listening and speaking with students from out of state; however, they both agreed they would never want to move to the state.
“It was really fun. It was my first experience,” Meadows said about the day’s event.
Reynolds added, “It was something different.”
When asked if they would ever like to live in Wisconsin, Meadows replied, “No, it’s too cold.”
“That’s awful,” Reynolds said referring to the cold weather up North. “I cannot deal with 53 days under zero.”
Located on the back wall of the classroom was a dry-erase board decorated with the words “Roll Tide!” and “War Eagle!” in red and orange. Interestingly enough, one of the most inquisitive questions Wisconsin students asked was whether the majority of Boyd students were Alabama or Auburn fans. The junior high students quickly responded by giving a shout of their favorite team.
Rivers informed the curious fourth-grade students that even though Alabama didn’t have a professional football team, the majority of the state loves its college football teams. She also added that college football is a huge deal across the South and is taken very seriously.
Thirteen-year-old Noah Redwine of T.S. Boyd was mostly intrigued about the location of the Wisconsin elementary school.
“I thought that it was interesting how they lived near the Green Bay [Packers] stadium,” Redwine said about the close proximity from the school to the stadium, which is less than 10 miles.
Rivers and Taylor thought the day’s activity went well and would like to see more live video chats take place within the county school system.