Wilton students overcome challenges in a year of determination


Ryan McElroy

Wilton Mock Trial members pose for a yearbook photo over Zoom.

Entering high school is often a scary and uncertain process. Clubs and sports can be a welcome way to form valuable friendships and ease some of that anxiety, but for this year’s freshman class, the experience was… strange.

“I see these people every week on Zoom, but I have never met many of the people in my clubs,” Addison Dobson said.

For Dobson and other freshmen, this has become ordinary. By now, the students barely notice they’re on Zoom, yet they still wish they could meet the other students. Junior Siya Yinti faced similar challenges. 

“I haven’t been in a club setting or anything related to a club setting since last year,” she said. “It can feel isolating, and limits the available opportunities.”

Zoom particularly limits clubs like debate, Mock Trial, and Model Congress that involve day-long competitions. These events require a lot of focus even in person, and so this year many found them difficult. 

Yinti, who is the vice president of Mock Trial and the president pro tempore of Model Congress, experienced this first hand. 

“Though Zoom was the best way we could experience those competitions in a safe way, it really wasn’t fun,” Yinti said.

Dancers faced similar challenges. Ellie Bloss, a junior who dances at the Conservatory of Dance, transitioned to an entirely new environment this year. The dancers have to stand at specific markings to maintain social distancing protocol and class times shifted and some levels were split in half. 

These changes were often difficult, and rarely easy to implement. Still, students examined them from a positive perspective. Overwhelmingly, Wilton students took these changes as a way to broaden their horizons and find new opportunities.

Mock Trial members shared similar sentiments. Thomas Petrillo, a current senior and the past treasurer of the club, called this “a year of determination.”

“We had to push ourselves more and the more we push ourselves, the better we become,” he explained. 

The team typically competes in one annual trial in December. This year, though, they competed in a second trial in May. 

Dobson had a similar experience in Marine Biology. Even though the club was unable to participate in many of their typical hands-on labs, they found new ways to learn, such as online debates.

One of Dobson’s favorite experiences was meeting a Wilton alumni who now lives in Florida. Even though in typical years that would be difficult to organize, it was much more convenient with Zoom. 

Yinit also found Zoom beneficial. She agreed that it gives you an option that wasn’t really there before, and found that it expanded how her clubs could operate. Interviews were easier, as were larger gatherings. Even if not everyone could get a ride to a banquet in past years, Zoom allowed everyone to attend from wherever they already were.

Each extracurricular or sport has faced seemingly insurmountable challenges with grace. As vaccination rates increase and restrictions lift, students know that they will take the lessons they’ve learned with them. 

“We took a lot of life for granted,” Yinti said.

The unprecedented nature of the pandemic has brought out the incredible optimism, creativity, and perseverance of so many Wilton students, and that is here to stay.