SOUTH PLAINFIELD – In efforts to keep students engaged, South Plainfield Middle School has been holding a series of virtual events. A virtual game night of Kahoot, visit from an author, and a new partnership with the South Plainfield Public Library help students and staff stay involved. 

“A lot of exciting things have been happening at the South Plainfield Middle School,” said Christine Brandenburg, Library Media Specialist. “In addition to the Kahoot Game Night, 8th graders enjoyed a virtual author visit.” 

Teachers and administrators have to be inventive these days. Game night featured two games of the online game system of Kahoot trivia questions, which took place over Google Meet. The first game, "Welcoming Winter Science,” quizzed students on the science of winter. The second game, "Winter Trivia,” allowed students to show off all they know about holiday celebrations and movies.

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“I’ve never played Kahoot before,” said Melissa Katsingris, parent. “It was a lot of fun. I’m so happy the school had this event. SPMS has done a great job running virtual family fun events during these times.”

“I really enjoyed playing the game and being part of the virtual family game night,” James Katsingris, student. 

“The Kahoot Night was fun, and we may do it again,” said Brandenburg. “It's important for the students to see each other outside of school for entertaining and engaging virtual events.”

The winner of the first game, "Welcoming Winter Science,” was James Katsingris. Vanessa Huynh won the second game, "Winter Trivia". 

Another exciting event for SPMS was a special visit from Author Mary Ann McGuigan who virtually visited language arts classes of 8th graders in December. She read excerpts of her books and students participated in a discussion entitled, “Interracial Friendship in a Turbulent Time.” McGuigan’s novels are classified as young-adult fiction and center around teens trying to make sense of chaos resulting from the adults in their lives.  

“The author visit with Mary Ann McGuigan was very educational for the students,” said Brandenburg. “The featured novels are set during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and touched on themes of equality, interracial friendship, and prejudice.  It was helpful for students to explore these topics in a historical context to better understand how these issues impact society today."

Another exciting venture, according to Brandenburg, is a partnership between the SPMS National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) and the South Plainfield Public Library. With Brandenburg as the advisor, the NJHS has been working with the children’s librarian, Jessica Gentile, on several projects. Students recorded online readings of the Pete the Cat stories for the library YouTube page and will be writing book reviews for the library.

Despite the challenges presented by virtual school and cessation of most in-person school events, South Plainfield Public Schools are working hard to think of new activities that can be done online to keep spirits high while combating the feelings of isolation that many teens are currently feeling.