Uncommon Community: How Commonwealth Stays Connected (Even When Stuck Inside!)
In these days of social distancing, Commonwealth School students have found lots of ways to keep their community—and spirits—strong. You'll find just some of their suggestions below.
Health and Wellness
- Meditate: In-person meditation has become a staple at Commonwealth. These days, it feels more important than ever. Apps like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, and brain.fm provide free guided meditation, and you can coordinate a virtual mindfulness hangout with friends, creating a space where you can meditate together, with or without a guide.
- Exercise: Some of our most active students shared their own workout routines, with exercises conducive to being inside like squats, toe touches, and crunches. Try challenging your friends to see who can do the most sit-ups or longest plank.
- Get outside: A reminder that going outside for walks, hikes, and other activities is still okay! Just remember to maintain social distancing measures.
- Watch together: Hold a Netflix watch party, the closest thing to gathering on the couch. Or make a challenge of sharing all the free shows and movies you can find, from “Great Performances” on PBS to songs from canceled musicals.
- Read together: Start a book group and have your discussions online. You might even take turns reading the book aloud, a favorite pastime at Commonwealth’s Hancock weekends.
- Listen together: Sync up your music with JQBX (JU·KE·BOX), tune into one of the free concerts celebrity musicians have been live streaming, or use radio.garden to explore radio stations from around the world.
Art and Craft
- “Visit” museums: You can conduct virtual tours of the Guggenheim, the Louvre, and many others.
- Tell a story. Launch a pass around story. Invite a group to a shared Google document, and have everyone add a sentence or two using a different font, so later contributors can see the evolution.
- Cook creatively: Just like the Commonwealth teacher who created a shared Google doc of favorite recipes, you can invite your more culinarily inclined friends to create a shared online cookbook.
- Craft as a collective: Get creative with the materials you have on hand—paper, fabric, even old knick-knacks. You might even pick a shared theme, like a song, word, or color. Set a deadline and share your progress along the way.
- Make a community quilt: Everyone creates and decorates their own square(s), to be assembled at a later date. Just pick the number and size of squares ahead of time.
- Pen a letter: Bring back the lost art of letter writing. Mail your friends hand-written notes, like pen pals.
- Test your public speaking skills: Challenge yourself to give a speech “in front of” your friends online. One member of the Commonwealth community suggested recording, reading, and memorizing speeches from suffragists to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage.
Games and Online Communities
- Roll the (digital) dice: “Board games” aren’t relegated to tables anymore. You can use Roll20, Boardgame Arena, Jackbox Games, and more to foster some friendly competition. Many have video and/or audio chat functions too.
- Tune into marble racing: It may just be marbles gunning for the finish line, but we hear this pastime is addicting! Qualifying rounds are streamed every Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST, with the official race at 4:00 p.m. Sunday EST.
- Get gaming: League of Legends and Minecraft as particularly good options for teams.
- Come up with a head-scratcher: Make your own word searches, brainteasers/riddles, and sudoku puzzles for your friends to see who you stump.
- Pin it: Share a Pinterest board for art, memes, or other interests to keep away boredom and spread joy.
- Do the math: Yes, we do math for fun. And you can work on math problems together over FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.
Politics and Community Service
- Contact your representatives: Several bills are on the table that could have drastic effects on Massachusetts residents during and after the pandemic, such as HD. 4935: An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID19 Emergency. Massachusetts residents can find their state representatives and senators here.
- Attend virtual town halls: Even students too young to vote can watch history being made at virtual town halls and other political events. Go with a friend and rehash the experience afterward.
- Rally support: Consider calling on your community to collect donations for local nonprofits. You can have supplies shipped directly to food pantries, shelters, or other community resources near you.
- Make something useful: One Commonwealth student called on her peers to spend their time sewing reusable cloth masks for healthcare workers and patients through Days for Girls.
- Volunteer (digitally): For a unique ways of giving back, try helping to transcribe printed and handwritten material at the Smithsonian.