In a middle school hallway in Charlottesville, Virginia, a pair of sixth grade girls sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a lime green settee, creating comic strips that chronicled a year of pandemic schooling.
Using a computer program called Pixton, they built cartoon panels, one of a girl waving goodbye to her teacher, clueless that it would be months before they were back in the classroom, another of two friends standing 6 feet apart from one another, looking sad.
“We have to social distance,” one of the girls, Ashlee, said. Then, as if remembering, she scooted a few inches away from her friend, Anna.
In classrooms off the hallway, clusters of kids from grades six to eight worked on wood carvings, scrapbooks, paintings and podcasts, while their teachers stood by to answer questions or offer suggestions. For two hours, the students roamed freely among rooms named for their purpose — the maker space, the study, the hub — pausing for a 15-minute “brain break” at the midway point of the session.