Albert Gallatin High School students who were unexpectedly separated from one another came together through video with a unified message during the coronavirus pandemic: “We’re all in this together.”

Students from Eric Nuttell’s Albert Gallatin Television (AGTV) class each decorated a sign with a positive message for a video to encourage the student body and the community.

“It’s hard to remember that we have people who are there, and this won’t last forever. This is just a temporary thing to keep us safe,” said 10th-grader Mariah Cooley, who wrote ‘Better days are ahead!’ on her sign. “Keep your cool. Better days are ahead as long as we follow the rules. And we’re all here – just at home.”

About 30 students participated in the video, sharing their photos along with messages including “Stay safe. You got this,” “Stay strong,” and “Social distancing doesn’t mean we aren’t together.” The students’ video, set to the song “We’re All in This Together” from “High School Musical,” was a response to a video from the teachers to their students. The teacher’s video was set to the song “I’ll be there for you,” from the TV show, “Friends.” Teachers held up signs saying “We miss you!” “I am here for you no matter where we are,” and “Good things are coming.”

Morgan Hershberger, a sophomore, participated in the video with a sign that said “In every cloud there’s a silver lining.” She said she was touched to see her softball coach on the teacher’s video. Her team had its first game just before the coronavirus cancelled the rest of the season.

“I thought it was super sweet, just because this whole thing happened so suddenly. Nobody had a chance to know it was the last game of the season, or knew they were seeing their friends for the last time in the school year,” she said. “I think this was really helpful, because it was so unexpected.”

Students were looking forward to sporting events, musicals, field trips, prom and other activities and extracurriculars in which they’d invested their time and energy. Seniors were looking forward to graduation. A swift change to online learning required students to quickly develop the discipline to complete their studies from a new environment outside of their standard routines and without teachers to give them direct guidance and encouragement. Kids were forced to make those abrupt changes without having their friends by their sides.

“Some of my best friends – we’ve been friends since kindergarten, and I’m not able to see them anymore,” said sophomore Gabriella Sloboda. “We spend all our time together, so this has been hard for us.”

She said she has a large friend group, and they typically get together every weekend for sleepovers. They have been planning outings for the summer to give them something to look forward to, and planning to break outside of their usual home-based activities. She and her classmates said making the video was a unifying experience.

“Being a part of something bigger, even though we aren’t together, was definitely helpful,” she sophomore Sarah Johns.

Nuttell said he has been designing projects with connection and routines in mind. He asked students to put together videos saying the pledge of allegiance, and posts them at 9 a.m. He also asked his students to put together 1 to 2 minutes vlogs where they discuss what they’re facing during the pandemic. Some of them are working, and others are bored with limited social and physical outlets, with extracurriculars and sports cancelled.

“I’m trying to give them continuity, and keep them engaged as much as I can,” he said.

The videos were published on the Albert Gallatin Television YouTube channel.

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