Getting the Inside Scoop on the New Cam Requirement

A discussion on the effects the new cam requirement will have on the students attending Williamsburg Academy

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Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

'What's New' for the students at Williamsburg Academy? Check it out!

Stephanie Campbell, Editor in Chief

Exclusive information on WHY the School Leadership made this requirement and HOW it will be enforced

January 6th, 2020, the beginning of a new school semester for Williamsburg students but also the beginning of a new requirement Williamsburg Academy has begun to enforce. As students are logging into their classes held in Zoom, their mentors are reminding them that they will be kicked out of class if they don’t turn their cam on. For some turning on their cam is no big deal, but for others, the day is full of panic and worry…

Over the next few weeks, I will answer the question: How is participation in classes, the culture of belonging, self-consciousness, and leadership in the lives of the students affected by the new cam requirement? For this series, I interviewed five students, Evan Reichard, Olivia Maloy, Addison Bollinger, Adam Mitchell and a student who chose to remain Anonymous, and two mentors, Anya Yeager and Peter Jensen, from Williamsburg Academy. 

It was last spring when all the mentors and program leaders at Williamsburg Academy (WA) met together to discuss a certain issue that kept coming up in team meetings: How do we get our students to participate more? Following this initial meeting, they met four more times to discuss and find a solution to this problem. 

I asked Anya Yeager, the Executive Director of WA, what the voting process was for WA to make a change like this. She explained, “We have teams for every program and in their meetings, people bring up issues. The program leaders bring me these issues and we discuss them. If we decide to change the policy then all of the program leaders and myself take a vote and we decide.” Peter Jensen, the Executive Director of Leadership Academy of Utah (LAU), equally described, “There was enough of an issue that we looked at it and we thought well let’s just make it a requirement to gently remind students that we are a leadership school.” 

Peter’s iconic humor and personality lit up the interview as I talked with him. He continued to explain, “We’re not trying to turn this into an ‘oh, this is a lame rule.’  We are definitely not just ‘trying to create rules for rules sakes.’” He notes that this is not a negative thing but “we are hoping that it will gently encourage students to be ready to truly engage in a world-class education.” He concludes by stating, “We are trying to gently and lovingly remind all of us, all of our students, that this is an opportunity to turn on the camera and let us see those bright shining beautiful faces.”

Williamsburg Academy is a leadership school committed to our mission statement, preparing promising students for meaningful lives as principled leaders. Anya Yeager eloquently pointed out, “The types of families that choose Williamsburg want their students to develop a certain set of leadership skills. If you are going to be a leader what is more important than being able to be a public speaker but to be able to present yourself with confidence.” However, the new cam requirement seems daunting to those students who find it overwhelming to turn on their cam and be seen. Where before it was a choice, now it is a requirement. 

As a student that’s not always on cam, Addison Bollinger, a senior this year, confessed that originally she hated the new cam requirement. However, she recently had a change in perspective as she explains to other students, “try and look at the bigger picture, and know that the school leaders want you to gain the best education you can.” She continues to explain, “You have the decision, you can either keep being angry at it and fight it or you can embrace it and say you know what? they want what’s best for me and I just need to trust and have faith, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Olivia Maloy, the President of the LAU Ambassadors, also a senior this year, believes that this new policy is not made “out of spite or to annoy us or to frustrate us or to make us feel self-conscious, but it’s to heighten our participation, get to know each other on a personal level and to know that everyone in this classroom is a real human being and not a robot.” During her interview, the passion she has for connection and meaningful relationships was impressive. I could feel the clarity of her message. WA prides themselves in their mission for connection and even though we are an online school we strive to find ways to create meaningful relationships. 

Amidst all these good vibes, two students believe this requirement is far from amazing. Evan Reichard, the Student Body President of WA and a senior this year, remarks, “I don’t think it’s gonna be as effective as they think unless there’s some kind of grade attached to it.” Adam Mitchell, a student who comes on cam most of the time, describes that the new cam requirement is “kinda like communism.” He says, “Honestly it is. Because you’re not letting people choose. If they choose something different you are gonna punish them by kicking them out of class.” He believes the reason they moved classes to Zoom was so more people could participate if they wanted. “If you take away that option it immediately stops the students from becoming principled leaders,” he explains. “We are being told what to think, not how to think.”

At the end of today, students remember why they love this school. It is because this is a school built on connection and leadership. The leaders of WA made this cam requirement because they want what’s best for you, the students. It is important to understand that it is being enforced gently and lovingly. But does that stop it from negatively affecting the students during class? Is class participation affected because now everyone will have their cams on regardless of their opinions and situation? Stay tuned for next week when we will further discuss how the new cam requirement is affecting the students at Williamsburg Academy. 

BONUS TIMEEE!!!

Ever find yourself logging into class and after the minute of silence you go to turn your cam on but instead of a video of you with bed head, you get a pop-up that says, “error your camera cannot be detected, try troubleshooting options.” So you go check all your other apps and your camera is still not working. You start to panic and as you are panicking you go check your software and find that all your camera drivers have disappeared! And you say to yourself, “What am I ever going to do?” 

Never fear! How to Fix Your Cam 101 is here!

To begin today’s lesson, according to Evan Reichard, if your camera is broken you should take this as an opportunity to go to your parents and say, “soooo I need this 3,000 dollar laptop because it has a camera…” Doing that will totally work, trust us. 😉

But if that doesn’t work, Adam Mitchell recommends you “go online and search for like a little camera thing… but um I don’t actually know how to fix something so…”

On the flip side, Anya Yeager confidently advises you to “get a new camera!” Wow, I never knew it could be that easy! Thank you, Anya! 

That’s all for now. Check back next week for How to Fix Your Cam 101: Confiding in the Llamas.

UPDATE:

If you have opinions or you would like to tell us your story on how the new cam requirement is affecting you, COMMENT BELOW! Let’s start the discussion!