Wellesley Middle School student voices on COVID-19: Soccer, small business, remote learning & overcoming boredom

The following articles were written by Wellesley Middle School students as part of First to the Frontpage, a 12-week journalism program created and run by Ian Lei and Felipe Lopez, editors for Wellesley High School’s newspaper, The Bradford. Lei and Lopez had plenty of help from Lizzie Berger, Kate Bhatt, Suzie Kim, and Kaelyn King—other writers for The Bradford. Originally intended to be run at Wellesley Middle School, the program moved online as a result of the pandemic. The program’s emphasis on individualized learning allowed student participants to explore their interest in journalism and to write their own articles on how COVID-19 affected their community.

We’ll run a second set of middle school student work, in the form of opinion pieces, on June 20.


Soccer in the era of a pandemic

By John McCurley ’25

(06/10/20)

Every spring, hundreds of Wellesley kids get outside and play soccer.  However, due to COVID-19, that didn’t happen this year. Instead, Wellesley United has gone digital. Wellesley United is a non-profit soccer club that is run and coached by professional coaches, many of whom also coach the New England Revolution, and volunteers. The organization focuses on getting kids excited about sports, teaching them about teamwork, and enhancing fitness and ball mastery skills. Through social media platforms such as Zoom and Instagram, coaches are able to continue to communicate with and train players during quarantine. 

 “We have been looking at a number of ways to communicate with our players throughout COVID-19 and had to get our research done as quickly as possible so that our players can stay active and continue to get touch on the ball,” said Dale Carr, Wellesley United coach and travel director. Coaches are posting weekly videos of themselves doing training sessions on social media. Wellesley United’s club program, Wellesley Premier League, has weekly team meetings and fitness sessions over Zoom. Also, on Wellesley United’s Instagram, there are a number of challenges such as the trash bin challenge. Players submitted videos of themselves using their skills to get a soccer ball in the trash.

Two Wellesley soccer players are using their skills to help out other nonprofit organizations during quarantine. “The Burnham sisters have been producing online live sessions for our players to raise money for the Wellesley Food Pantry. We have supported this by putting it up on our social media to raise awareness. The sisters raised $500 over the course of 5 weeks,” said Carr. 

Even though the spring season was cancelled, Carr said that through zoom meetings and at-home practice sessions players have continued to stay fit and practice ball mastery. With the arrival of phase two in Massachusetts’ reopening plan, fields are now partially open, but many restrictions still remain. Summer and Fall soccer programs are still uncertain, but when soccer returns, Wellesley United players will be ready.


Small Businesses Shutdown Amid COVID-19 Crisis

By Kourosh Farboodmanesh ’26

(06/10/20)

From canceling international trips to stopping practice and gameplay, North Atlantic Football Club’s (NAFC) business is at a standstill. Director and coach of NAFC, Soorena Farboodmanesh, says that there is no other option than following governor and state orders to return to play. While the club’s main source of income is through registration of players, Farboodmanesh says that their main focus is on the safety of the players, coaches, officials, and families. 

Like all other sports teams, NAFC closed its doors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Farboodmanesh says that he is optimistic and believes that the new state rules will allow teams to return to play when it is safe to do so. Considering the current circumstance, Farboodmanesh and his co-workers are currently unemployed. 

 “Soccer and Futsal are their only means and they are hurting,” said Farboodmanesh. Along with 2.4 million other Americans, the staff and coaches at NAFC are relying on government-provided stimulus checks to stay afloat. 

Many small businesses are struggling due to customers asking for their money back from subscriptions, registration fees, and other purchases they made from these businesses. Fortunately, Farboodmanesh says that the players and their families are not giving NAFC a hard time when it comes to refunds.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Farboodmanesh and his partners have completely shifted their meetings over to platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams to abide by social distancing rules. Using these platforms can be hard to use and new to some people. Even though COVID-19 has physically separated small business owners and their partners, it has brought them together to think about innovative ways to maneuver around this problem. 


Remote Learning: Temporarily or “In The Long Run”?

By Muzixin Dang ’24

Remote learning is a method of schooling that is trending in many countries due to the pandemic, and some educators think it could be a new way to learn and teach and could replace the classroom in the future. However, not everybody agrees. 

Schools in Wellesley have been closed since March, and teachers are concerned about the students’ experiences with remote learning. The question of “how’s remote learning going for you” became a common opening for almost every class. However, students have both positive and negative feedback on this way of teaching. 

“I like remote learning better, since I get to wake up later, it’s convenient going from class to class, and the schedule is more flexible. Sometimes, when teachers post the learning for the week, I can do some work in advance so I have more free time later in the week,” said Ava Chen ’24.

Allowing students to manage their time is one of the biggest benefits of remote learning. Students have more freedom to allocate their time, and this skill will be really helpful for them in the future. However for some students, they feel that they are not using time efficiently and are always distracted by their phones.

The most common complaint about not being able to go back to school is that students can’t have contact or chat with their friends, which they really miss. 

“I think social interaction is very important, and staring at a screen all day is not good for your health either. Remote learning temporarily is fine, but I would rather work in the actual place in the long run,” said Chen. 

Social distancing and health issues caused by staring at a screen all day are the two main reasons why students don’t want remote learning in the “long run”. Some parents hold similar attitudes towards remote learning. 

“There isn’t any big change in my life because I don’t have a job and don’t need to go to work. But remote learning would  definitely change my daily schedule and reduce the time I used to spend with my wife only. I hope school will open as quickly as possible,” said Ming Dang, a parent of a student at the middle school. 

Students will spend more time at home if remote learning continues, and it would certainly cause many changes in every family. Surprisingly, Dang couldn’t come up with any compliments for remote learning while he stated that his attitude towards online school was neutral. 

Overall, students are more likely to better engage with learning in normal classes than online classes, and prefer to go back to school as soon as possible. Parents are also looking forward to the opening of the schools and return to their normal life. 


Obstacle Courses, Biking, and Walking: What Kids Around Wellesley are Doing to Battle Their Boredom During the Coronaviruis

By Reilly Gareau ’24

While workers on the frontline are battling the coronavirus, many of us are battling something else taking up a lot of time in our life these days: boredom. Many parents are struggling with kids who are out of their minds at home, and at the same time, many kids are looking for something interesting to do with their free time. Luckily, some kids around town have thought of creative new ways – and are bringing back some old ones – to fill up their spare hours.

“I’ve done obstacle courses, and I recommended doing them. Also I’ve used my train board a lot, my model train,” said Michael Gareau, a 5th grader in Wellesley.

Some of the obstacles in Gareau’s obstacle courses include ducking under or jumping over hurdles, doing a long jump between two cones, and pulling a wagon full of heavy objects, such as rocks, up a hill in his backyard. The obstacle courses are a great way to spend time, because they incorporate creative thinking in the design process of the course, including the constraints of using materials available. They also allow for many different levels of challenge depending on the obstacles chosen. Some unique obstacles that are slightly less active can include drawing (with chalk or on paper), playing a round of charades with a partner, or even solving a riddle. Obstacle courses are one of the best options because one can personalize them including virtually any activity, even if it isn’t active. 

Going on a walk with a pet, family member or friend is a much simpler idea than creating an obstacle course. 

“I’ve been getting outside by walking my dog Annabelle,” said Gareau. “I try to stay away from other people and wear a mask. I think talking with people should be allowed but being very close to people shouldn’t.”

Maggie Saunders ’24 is a middle school student who has also found some activities to occupy her time during the quarantine. 

“I have been biking and walking around my neighborhood. My family also built a trampoline which I use every day with my brother. We also play frisbee,” said Saunders.

Gareau isn’t the only one taking time to go on a walk. Saunders is a regularly active middle schooler, who also enjoys walks, but continued by saying that she has become less active during the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic I played hockey almost every day, but now that I can’t do that I have been enjoying running around outside. I feel like I am exercising less than I used to,” said Saunders.

Although she may be having trouble finding ways to stay active as she was before the pandemic, Saunders understands that it is part of her responsibility, as it is everyone’s, to follow the restrictions put in place by officials. Getting outside is important, although sometimes indoor activities are the best thing to do.

“I’ve used my train board a lot, my model train, it’s HO scale, it’s the most popular scale,” said Gareau.

Although not many of us have a model train, maybe now is the right time to pull out all those old toys that we haven’t used in awhile. Remember that Rainbow Loom fad? Or the Fidget Spinner one? Now might be a good time to put those old toys to use.

However one chooses to battle their boredom – whether it is getting outside for a walk or an obstacle course, or pulling out a game one hasn’t used in awhile, be sure to follow the local guidelines of wearing a face covering whenever a 6-foot social distance is not possible. And of course, stay happy, healthy, and safe while battling boredom during the coronavirus pandemic.


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