Adjusting to high school is hard enough. New classmates, new teachers, new expectations. Adjusting to high school during a pandemic can feel impossible.
Serenity is far from alone from feeling the impact of school closings.
Nationally, 59% of students report feeling unmotivated to do their schoolwork while their physical school buildings remain closed. And only one in three students said they really feel like part of their school community.
Fortunately for Serenity, a blast from her past provided the spark she’d been looking for.
“My counselor posted about virtual Scrabble club on Google Classroom and I was like ‘Oh, I have to do this!’” ― Serenity
It was a love of words that first drew Serenity to the game of Scrabble as a middle schooler at Pennypacker Elementary in West Oak Lane.
“I can expand my vocabulary, make my English papers better. If I learned a new word, I’m using it the next day. It’s always bringing joy to me.” ― Serenity
In 2019, Serenity’s love of words took her all the way to the School Scrabble Championships to compete against the best middle schoolers in North America where Hasbro recognized her with their annual Integrity Award.
Thanks to the virtual Scrabble club at her new school, once again Serenity’s after school hours were spent studying strategy, memorizing sneaky two-and-three letter plays, and cracking jokes with her new friends across different grades. Staring at a screen suddenly wasn’t much of an issue.
Serenity and her team quickly made their mark, beating the best players in the city to win the high school division of ASAP’s Scrabble League in February. More importantly, in the process Serenity rediscovered a community she felt she belonged to, a community that was rooting for her.
“It’s a way to connect with people in a game that is underappreciated. I’m thankful for having people in and outside Scrabble who encourage me to be better.” ― Serenity
Throughout the past year, fostering a sense of community while we remain socially distanced has been a major focus for ASAP. Serenity’s Scrabble club is just one of more than 175 virtual enrichment programs ASAP has coordinated since schools closed last March.
Thanks to supporters like you, these programs have helped thousands of Philly kids stay connected and continue to do the things that they love outside of school.
Despite everything, Serenity is optimistic about the future — which includes returning to compete in the North American School Scrabble Championships this May. When asked what words of wisdom she would give her peers who are still struggling being apart, her advice is simple:
No doubt, the past year has made many of us realize just how important feeling connected and taking joy in the simple things is to our happiness, to our health, to our sense of wholeness.
And while the road to “normal” remains complicated, please support ASAP today so that, together, we can help students throughout Philadelphia — students just like Serenity — find their way back.
In this important work, we are most grateful for your consideration. Many thanks.
P.S. Your gift makes a difference! 96% of principals agree ASAP provides their students with opportunities they couldn’t otherwise offer. Help us give Philly students the opportunities they deserve!