ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council formed midyear with a plan to connect online students. The student members’ first act of business was to create their Mission Statement: “ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council works to make our school a place where every student feels welcome and included. We encourage students to make friends, help others, and support the school. Our core values are Learning, Community, Kindness, and Leadership.”
Once the Student Council determined their shared mission, it was time to put it into action. Sponsor Ms. Hale explains, “The goal established by our Student Council was to provide an environment where students can find friends with similar interests at our online school.” And so the idea of “Forks Up Friendship” was born—an online social event for middle school students to mix and mingle with their peers in small breakout rooms based on common interests.
Forks Up Friendship, Student-Planned and Led
Student member Elana “Laney” Woodward explains the planning process as a total group effort: “One person may not be able to do it alone, but together, we can.” And so all the responsibilities were doled out according to the Student Council members’ own interests and strengths.
An anonymous interest form was created and distributed to middle school students, and then the data was organized and analyzed to determine the breakout rooms for the event: topics like Gaming, Reading, Pets, Music and Cooking.
Other members designed advertisements and sent emails to the faculty asking them to share the event with students. Members further advertised the event by displaying specially created “Forks Up Friendship” Zoom backgrounds to attract attention during live sessions, as well as adding “Student Council Member” to their Zoom name.
Ms. Hale reiterates, “It was theirs, and it was fun to see them thrive and take ownership.”
Forks Up Friendship, A Complete Success
The hour-long event was held in March with participation from about 100 of the online middle school students who could choose one of ten thematic rooms to visit, each with a teacher moderator, not to guide conversation, but for supervision. Students had the option to shift rooms, and most had about 10-15 participants at a time with one “small group” room limited to ten, specifically for students more comfortable conversing with less people.
In each room, students had a chance to socialize. Hayden Hansen, Student Council member and advertisement artist, participated in the Roblox room, where students simultaneously talked and played Roblox. Hayden has continued to play with students he met during the event.
Katheryn Mantey-King, Student Council member, participated in the Cooking room, where time was spent mostly chatting about desserts and food competition TV shows.
Zinnelyse “Zinnie” Grey, Student Council member, participated in the small group because the more mainstream themes didn’t really apply to her. She prompted conversation and had the participants discussing several different topics, like less popular games or music.
According to Laney, who enthusiastically participated in the Reading room, the event was “a complete success. No one walked away unhappy.”
Books were recommended, gaming usernames exchanged, music played, cute pet cameos shared—all to establish connections amongst online classmates, now friends.
What’s Next for Middle School Student Council
Student Council will host another “Forks Up Friendship” May 18 with some familiar breakout rooms like Minecraft and Roblox as well as some new ones like Pokémon, LEGO, trivia, and summer plans.
Sponsor Ms. Hale is already looking forward to the fall with hopes of more participants joining Student Council, plans to host “Forks Up Friendship” more regularly, and perhaps the possibility of an in-person event.