Away from school, students lack many connections with the community. The administration has worked to combat this problem with varying levels of success. Students and teachers alike have searched for new ideas to bring the community together, foster engagement, and ultimately help replicate the sense of connection and brotherhood students may have taken for granted pre-COVID-19.
The school’s inaugural Madden Tournament continued throughout May, largely accomplishing this goal. The tournament was Dean of Students Mr. Mark Fifer’s brainchild, which he established with a goal of inspiring community engagement among the student body. The event was a huge success, with almost fifty entries and countless other students tuning in to follow results.
Fifth Former Ben Fosnocht ultimately emerged as the winner.
“I think it was a lot of fun,” Fosnocht said. “It was a great way to bring the whole Haverford community together. I played against guys I’ve never met before—kids from different grades—which I think was pretty cool. I’m a competitive person, so I tried to win every game, but I also recognize that it was just an enjoyable way to kind of bring us together.”
“We’ve kind of been tinkering with different ways in which we can keep kids and community members connected,” Mr. Fifer said. “And obviously we feel like that is a really important thing to do during this period of time when we’re physically separated—to keep people connected.”Dean of Students Mr. Mark Fifer
Mr. Fifer has had this goal in mind since the shift to Virtual Haverford.
“We’ve kind of been tinkering with different ways in which we can keep kids and community members connected,” Mr. Fifer said. “And obviously we feel like that is a really important thing to do during this period of time when we’re physically separated—to keep people connected.”
Over the past few months, the faculty has sought to form these connections.
Mr. Fifer said, “We’ve offered some variety of community programming that has been met honestly with different levels of success: the sessions that we’ve offered have been modest in their attendance. As you may know, I tried to get a trick shot competition off the ground, and that didn’t really work — I submitted an entry and that was the only one that was submitted.”
More recent attempts like the Madden Tournament have seen much more student engagement.
“We polled some students, and they said that they thought the Madden Tournament would be a good idea,” Mr. Fifer said. “I see it as a way to meet students’ interests, and also to get them connected. The goal is that it is a community builder and that they’re interacting with other Haverford community members, maybe with whom they have never interacted. They’re reminded that they’re part of this larger community, which I think is an important reminder right now.”
As a result of the Madden Tournament’s success, students will likely see similar future tournaments. Currently, the chess tournament is underway, with over twenty-five competitors.
“Especially now, I think these tournaments are great,” Fosnocht said. “It’s combining competitiveness with an enjoyable experience into a tournament that I think a lot of people will have fun playing. It doesn’t take too much effort to sit down and play — for example — a Madden game. It was a great way to bring us together, and it’s something we can do apart.”