Gabriel Perkins Interview:
This is cycle 4 file #32. This is Jean McMIllen. I am interviewing Gabriel Perkins who is a rising junior at Hotchkiss School. Today is August 25, 2021. Gabriel is going to talk about his experiences at Hotchkiss and particularly about the past year and the Covid 19 pandemic changes which have been vast.
Alright here we go!
JM:What is your full name, please?
GP:Gabriel Hayes Perkins
GP:Albany, New York
JM:Your parents’ names?
GP:Carmen Dockery Perkins
JM:Do you have siblings?
GP:I have two siblings. I have a twin sister Olivia Perkins and a younger brother Aiden.
JM:Is your sister identical or fraternal?
GP:She is my sister so she must be fraternal.
JM:Where did you get your elementary education?
GP:Berkshire country Day School, then Indian Mountain School, then Salisbury Central School
JM:You have been around! When did you come to Hotchkiss as a family?
GP:2016 when I was in 6th grade.
JM:Why did you come?
GP:My mom took a full position as an instructor in Spanish. She had been working part time the year before and committing from Gt. Barrington, Mass. When she took the full time position, we were offered a house.
JM:You are living in one of the new dormitory/houses: its name is what?Pg. 2
JM:Do you know whom it was named for?
GP:No, probably a donor most likely.
JM:You are a faculty relation, I’ll put it that way, are there a lot of faculty young people on campus>
GP:Yeah I think most teachers have children. There about 30 faculty children: they possibly go to SCS and for the older kids go to Hotchkiss or Salisbury (School for Boys Ed.) or Berkshire.
JM:Because you live on campus are there any advantages or restrictions because you do live on campus?
GP:Because I am living with my family on campus I can travel anywhere on weekends without signing papers. Because I am not boarding I can’t stay in the dorm all night. That’s it. That’s my house.
JM:But you do ha e a day room?
GP:I have a day room which has a desk: I share it with 1 or 2 boarding students.
JM:Did you have to apply as a student at Hotchkiss?
GP:I did have to apply. As a faculty child I go to apply early. I also only interviewed with the Director of Admissions.
JM:Who is that please?
GP:Irvy Mitchell- all the faculty children are interviewed by him to keep thing confidential.
JM:Who is the Headmaster now?
JM:How long has he been here?
GP:I think he has been here since 2016 or 2015.
JM:Did you have to do an essay as part of your application process?
GP:I took the SSAT which is a standardized test, then I wrote a short essay and answered some other questions, separately for Hotchkiss.
JM:What was your essay on?
GP:I think it was about my family. The questions were pretty open. Then the general application you can do for all the boarding schools, but all the boarding schools also offer a separate application for their school, specifically, which usually asked something like Why do you want to come to Hotchkiss? What interests you about Hotchkiss?
JM:Tell me about the dress code.Pg. 3
GP:The dress code 5 years ago used to be a collared shirt, jacket and tie. This year I don’t think there was any dress code. They kept relaxing it for the past couple of years, but they totally dropped it last year because of Covid.
JM:Meal time is it basically sit-down, cafeteria?
GP:No it is cafeteria style. We have maybe three or four sit-down meals each year, but it is all cafeteria style.
JM:Do you have mean times or is it an all-day affair?
GP:There are different meal block: 2 hour blocks in the morning, 2 hours for lunch and 3 hours for dinner. Sports practices end at different times so all the teams are eating at different times.
JM:Relating to your weekly schedule, a normal weekly schedule-is it the same every day or does it change?
GP:It is the same schedule, not a rotating schedule, Monday through Saturday.
JM:Saturday is half day?
GP:It is a half day. Supposedly it is all training every other Saturday. We have class, but that is just how it comes out at the end of the year so we might have Saturday classes for a month.
JM:What subjects last year did you like the best?
GP:I liked my Latin class and I liked my honors chemistry class. My Latin class we read Caesar’s Gallico. I really enjoyed that. To read and heard the Latin was a lot of fun.
JM:It is. It is a lot of fun and it brings it to life. It definitely brings it to life. Were there any subjects that you didn’t care for that much last year?
GP:I liked all my classes. I think my Algebra II class was the least creative, but I still liked it.
JM:Extra- curricular activities, what do you do for sports?
GP:In the fall I row and then in the winter I do Club Squash. In the spring I row again.
JM:Do you play Hockey?
GP:No I stopped playing Hockey in 5th grade. I took a break for 5 or 6 years.
JM:You are in the orchestra, too, aren’t you?
GP:I play clarinet. That is just part of my music course.Pg. 4
JM:How many years have you been playing the clarinet?
GP:4 or 5.
JM:You must be good then. I know you have friends on campus. Do you have a mixture of friends the campus people as well as the students who are in-coming? Do you have friends with both?
GP:Yeah, I mean I think the day students and the boarding student are all friends. There are not two separate groups. A lot of the day students spend a lot of time on campus. They eat dinner on campus and they will come back to campus on the weekends. There is no division.
JM:I know you are looking forward to a particular subject next year. What are you looking forward to?
GP:I am looking forward to Greek. I will start Greek next year. I‘ll take Lain and Greek and will get a classics diploma.
JM:Do you have at this point any future plans as far as goals for college or future work?
GP:I am mostly focusing on my classes at Hotchkiss. Now I am thinking about where I want to go to college, but I definitely want to focus on classes, my Latin and Greek.
JM:Good luck! Now we are going to focus on the pandemic so the rest of the questions that I am going to ask you are about the pandemic restrictions and so forth.
JM:Tell me about masks.
GP:We wore a mask for the entire year, inside and outside: even when we played sports. In the last month we were allowed to take our masks off when we were walking outside.
JM:Were there a lot of foreign students that came back or not?
GP:I’d say a lot or about 50-50 for the foreign students. I would say almost all the domestic student came back to campus. A lot of the foreign students, especially Asia could not come back because of the visa problem or it wasn’t convenient to come back so they went to school on line.
GP:We had social distancing through the entire year. They rearranged the classrooms so we were all spread out. We went from using conference tables to using individual desks.
JM:How about assemblies?
GP:We didn’t have any assemblies in person, but we did all of our assemblies through Zoom.
GP:We didn’t have cafeteria style meals. Instead we had grab and go style, like take out. We would pick up the boxed meals and bring it back to our rooms in the beginning of the year. That transformed into getting the boxed meals and eating in the eating area at tables that were divided into sections by Plexiglas.
JM:Now you said that there was some set –up on the tennis courts?
GP:They designed dining spaces all over campus to spread us out and make sure we were socially distanced. They set up the tables in the cafeteria and tables in common areas. They spent like millions of dollars setting up tables in the tents in the tennis courts, the indoor tennis courts, but no body used them. Also they spent a fortune on tents that they use at a wedding.
JM:I saw some of those.
GP: No body used those either, especially those that go mold.
JM:How about the portion size of the meals?
GP:The portions were really small. Lots of kids would have to get 3 or 4 boxes of chicken tenders. There were only 2 chicken tenders per box. Because of that we went through a lot of plastic and cardboard waste.
JM:You did way there was an awful lot of litter.
JM:Did the student in general like the food?
GP:No the quality of the food versus regular years was worse partly because of the box. They were limited to what they could cook and the food was often cold. They had to use a lot of packaged food.
JM:What kind of testing was done on the students?
GP:We had no end of the semester exams, but we had regular unit tests and quizzes, but no exams
Which was a ….
GP:A blessing! It was the blessing not to have to prepare for exams. That is very stressful.
JM:It is. Did the faculty have any restriction?
GP:They followed the same mask and social distancing guidelines as the students. They tried to limit going off campus. Faculty families also followed the same protocol. Everybody on campus took spit tests weekly to test for Covid.
JM:Did you have any swab testing?Pg. 6
GP:In the beginning of the year we used swab testing. They did not swab test everybody at once, but it was just pools of random people from the grades in testing.
JM:Did you have a vaccination clinic here?
GP:We did in the spring have a vaccination clinic. Many sophomore, juniors and seniors got their first and second vaccine shots.
JM:Was there any quarantine?
GP:There was a 2 week quarantine period when we got back to campus in fall and when we returned in the spring. From Thanksgiving break to Spring break we were all on line because it would not make sense to come back to campus to quarantine for two weeks then have regular classes for two weeks and then go back on break. So we were on line for the winter.
JM:With your sports, did you have any interscholastic games?
GP:In the spring there were a couple of scrimmages between other schools. For rowing we had one race against Choate which was exciting. We won all of our races: every boat won!
JM:Oh good. Could you explain the zero chance policy? What is that?
GP:That is for if you break the social distancing/ mask guidelines, you would be sent home immediately. But that policy was not strictly enforced. The idea was that you would be sent home: you would still be able to learn on line, but you would be kicked off campus if you broke the quarantine and then social distancing protocol.
JM:With the education you spoke about the Harkness Method of Learning?
GP:In the freshman and sophomore classes the English and history classes they taught the Harkness Method which is a discussion based method. The classes are discussion based and they all sit around a conference table to discuss the readings. You still use that method last year, but we used desks instead because we had to be social distanced. We got rid of the tables and brought in desks.
JM:That is a little difficult to do a discussion with desks.
GP: It was difficult and the masks made it really difficult because often times the teacher could not hear the pupil. It was hard to have class discussions, but we still used the Harkness Method.
JM:If the freshmen and the sophomore deal with the Humanities, what about the Juniors and Seniors?
GP:They still use the Harkness Method in their English and history electives, but especially in the freshmen and sophomore years, it is mandatory in English and history. The two year program is called the Humanities Program.
JM:Is there anything else about the pandemic that I have not covered?Pg. 7
GP:I think you covered it pretty much. That’s all of it.
JM:Is there anything before we close that you would like to add to this interview?
GP:Just the social distancing and wearing masks was really hard. Everybody at Hotchkiss felt it was a hard year to wear masks as teenagers.
JM:It is hard for anybody, but particularly for teenagers. Thank you very much.