COVID-19 and Willemstan
This article was last updated on November 20th of 2021.
A meme created by Ian Hampton early in the pandemic, a parody of the old meme "Pool's Closed due to Aids".
"Hello everybody and welcome back to week #2 of our... very exciting online teaching."
- Interim teacher Mr. Kyle Long during an instructional video for remote learning, 09/08/2020.
"I have noticed more academic dishonesty this year than in my last 18 years of teaching. I have this feeling that some teachers have given up, but that's not my stance... Remember I was a student at one point too. I know the tricks of the trade, I know the apps that are out there, and I know who you hang out with... It is extremely obvious when you do it."
- Mr. Herek on academic dishonesty during the pandemic, 05/11/2021.
Main article: COVID-19 Pandemic's Impact on Williamston Community Schools
The COVID-19 Pandemic created rather eventful times for Willemstan. While at first, the MIA of System IV and the stalling of FIRST Robotics seemed like crushing blows, these would ultimately be made up for by a great increase in server activity and entertaining stalking. Development of the Willemstan Wiki began at the start of the pandemic as well. From March 2020 - January 2021, Willemstan was in its most active phase to date, and many changes in Willemstani society occurred during that time. Server events became commonplace, the government was overthrown, reforms were made, war was declared, and so much more. While much of what occurred was not caused exclusively by the pandemic, a sudden increase in activity and being stuck at home created the perfect motivation to truly reform and develop Willemstan. Despite the cost.
Despite the fact that the school was shut down for much of the pandemic, the System trio still found ways to be idiots, get into trouble, and push their luck.
2019 - 2020 School Year (2nd Semester)
Willemstan Discord Server
Shortly after the school closure was announced, activity in Williemstan spiked. While there would be an even greater increase at the start of the next school year, this was still a significant rise. Most of the new activity occurred in the new channels set up by the Willemstan 1.1reforms. Since the virtual learning implemented during this semester was laughably non-time consuming, the resuming of school did not impact the server activity at all during this time period. Despite the controversial period the server was in at this time period, the months of March 2020 - May 2020 were ultimately very good for the server. Immigration to the server may have also increased, but unfortunately any record of that has been lost due to the channel purge.
While the server prospered, some components of Willemstan culture suffered. The 2020 Robotics Competition (in which many Willemstan citizens participated in) was delayed indefinitely and eventually canceled. The Robotics Team could not access the robotics room anyway because the school has been shut down. However, what caused the most impact to Willemstan was when the school shut off all of the computers in the robotics room on April 17th of 2020. This occurred because the school was reorganizing the space. The Live Camera Feed, along with System IV and the Discord bots, all went offline because of this.
Thoughts on E-Learning
While the school initially declared a one week break (excluding the Spring break that followed), this turned out to be a gross underestimate. The one week break quickly became two weeks, then three weeks, ultimately reaching a period of five weeks of no academic instruction at all. During April 2020 however, the administration finally started to get some resemblance of a plan together. In what was known as "Remote Student Instruction", the students of Williamston High School were instructed entirely though Google Classroom for the last seven weeks of school. The workload given was incredibly small, and credit-no credit was offered. However, some MSA students reported that Mr. Rasmus remained vigilant and attempted to assign close to the normal amount of work.
In all, Remote Student Instruction was used by the majority of students as a way to increase their GPA for almost no effort. In fact, you could view it as a widespread implementation of Mr. Weber's teaching back in 2017 - 2018. Cheating was widespread during the seven weeks of remote instruction, and late work was accepted at no penalty. Everyone got 10/10s on their work as long as they turned something in. Not to mention that each teacher was only giving two short assignments a week, so as a result, if a student wasn't in MSA, AP, or Dual Enrollment, they had very little work to do. The seniors were given the option to auto-graduate and didn't have to do any work as long as they were passing all of their classes before school closed.
A minority of students were simply very unmotivated to do the work, and as a result just skipped most of it or didn't do it at all. Despite doing well, most students agreed that the work given was more uninteresting, bland, and ineffective compared to regular school. General motivation to complete the work was down. This would become even worse of a problem the following school year.
While we sure complained a lot about this version of online Williamston High School, we had no idea about what was to come..
2020 - 2021 School Year (1st Semester)
See also: Pro-Herek Propaganda
Willemstan Discord Server
On August 12th of 2020, Ian Hampton created #williamston-discussion for members of Willemstan to discuss their school district. This text channel would quickly become one of the most significant channels in the server. The activity spike from the first part of e-learning had not subsided at all. During most school days, members of Willemstan gathered in voice channels before, after, or even during class. Sometimes, Willemstan citizens played shitty website games together, or just settled for League of Legends (gross). Other forms of entertainment included picking apart school policies and sharing images of Ben Kruger, who's status was unknown to members of Willemstan until August 31st of 2020, when Ian shared a screenshot of Ben Kruger and Mrs. Doyle in the school together. Following this, Charlie Nolan would share countless screenshots of Ben Kruger throughout the school year. Willemstan citizens in the MSA at the time, such as Malcolm, Eli, and Joey also frequently shared screenshots of Mr. Rasmus, who became a subject of much controversy that semester due to his teaching style.
Fasination with Ben Kruger in Willemstan continued over the course of the semester. On September 2nd of 2020, Charlie shared several minutes of Ben Kruger fidgeting in his chair, in a video he titled "AmbientKrug1.mp4". On September 15th of 2020, Ian shared the now infamous "Ben Kruger Video". This was an icebreaker video Ben Kruger recorded for Mr. Gailitis's 4th hour, in which Ben talks about himself and how his birthday (2001) is the same year that "the planes crashed into the buildings". By October 16th of 2020, Charlie posted an edit of the Ben Kruger video, mixing it with AmbientKrug1.mp4, loud music, and stock images. The shitpost was found to be hilarious, and a "Ben Kruger Copypasta" (the transcript of the Ben Kruger video) was created from the video and lived on for many months afterwords. Many members of Willemstan also adopted the word "eck" into their vocabulary.
In addition, Williamston High School teacher Mr. Herek became highly appreciated in Willemstan due to his rants on cheating students, his YouTube channel, and his epic Wheel of Fortune win. Further information on him would be discovered in the following semester as well.
Thoughts on E-Learning
For this semester, a new e-learning system was created, divided into two sections. The morning asynchronous period and the afternoon synchronous period. Over the course of the school year, the synchronous period grew larger and the asynchronous period grew smaller, even though the amount of asynchronous work remained pretty much the same. In addition, students only had three classes a day. Their first three hours one day, and the last three hours the next. The asynchronous period was mostly assigned over Google Classroom, and as a result, was very mundane and boring. Many students chose to sleep in instead of doing the work, pushing it off until the afternoon. There is significant evidence that many students were not completing their work at all (or doing so very late), which caused many teachers to stop giving late work penalties or even stop grading the asynchronous work seriously at all.
The synchronous period took place in the form of a Google Meet. Teachers used this as a way to directly communicate with the students, have class discussions, and conduct tests. Most did not assign additional busywork, but those that did usually did so through powerpoint lectures or by monologuing over screenshare. During these synchronous sessions, student participation was low and many teachers seemed less enthusiastic compared to past years. Can you really blame them?
While the school board claimed this was a superior version of e-learning, this was not really the case. While it is true that we were actually being taught this time, it became clear very quickly that Williamston's online instruction still paled in comparison to normal school. More students failed classes and cheating was incredibly widespread.
2020 - 2021 School Year (2nd Semester)
Willemstan Discord Server
Mr. Herek's popularity in Willemstan continued to rise during this semester. After hours of research, Ian tracked down the exact Wheel of Fortune episode Mr. Herek appeared in. Season 25, episode 63. Unfortunately, no tape of it could be found. Server activity was just as high as the previous two semesters, but voice calls became much less common once the hybrid model was adapted.
Thoughts on E-Learning
For most of this semester, the hybrid model was in use. All this really meant was that students were able to attend the synchronous time in person instead of through Google Meets. According to the school, about 2/3rd of students chose to do so. In Willemstan, this also seemed to be the case. As a result, voice calls during the school day became much less common as previously mentioned. While many teachers greatly appreciated seeing students in front of them again, many tended to ignore the online students as a result. The asynchronous time was still just Google Classroom crap for everybody.
The finals this semester are an interesting subject. Many students failed classes and cheated in the previous semester, and this trend continued if not worsened for the second semester of the 2020 - 2021 school year. An answer key for Mr. Gailitis's Google Forms final was in circulation because students were able to share the answers to later hours after completing the test for themselves. Some teachers conducted what was coined "grade inflation" by Ian for their final tests, in which they gave 100% scores to almost everybody by not really grading the final seriously. This is likely because many students were failing or doing poorly to the point where some teachers decided to go with a nuclear option at the end of the year in a desperate attempt to stop students from failing. A high amount of points combined with the weight of a final was sure to save most people's grades right? Wrong. It didn't work at all.
Williamston High School offered free summer school to all students that failed at least one semester during the 2020 - 2021 school year. The exact amount of students who failed is unknown, but the office staff accidentally leaked the names of everyone who failed at one point. This occurred when they sent out a single email to all students who were failing near the end of the semester, instead of using an automated system or a blind carbon copy process. As a result, everyone who failed a class knew the names of those who also failed. Although, this probably wasn't a huge deal since the students who failed would all be seeing each other in the school that summer anyway.