Instead of resigning themselves to dorm rooms on largely shuttered campuses or reoccupying their childhood bedrooms, some college students are attending virtual classes this fall from large homes they rent with friends. The houses need not be near any particular campus, and the friends don’t need to attend the same school. Group home rentals are cropping up in a host of interesting locales: Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the Rocky Mountains, Hawaii, and even Barbados. At a youth camp in Arizona’s Prescott National Forest, students can stay in cabins and take advantage of outdoor activities while still hopping on high-speed internet for class.
“Most college students don’t want to be home anymore,” George Washington University sophomore Yoni Altman-Shafer told The New York Times, which reported that the 20-year-old pitched the idea to his parents with a PowerPoint presentation. Altman-Shafer and his friends wanted to live somewhere adventurous but still inexpensive—and they promised to get their schoolwork done. Permission granted, the group is attending online classes at the Washington, D.C., school from an Airbnb rental in Colorado this term.
Social media photos of some of the roommate crews make the living arrangements look more like a wild fraternity house than a serious study zone. But others are approaching the situation with sobriety, even requiring COVID-19 testing for residents and signed contracts outlining acceptable behaviors. —L.E.
At least 10 elementary or secondary schools that previously sported names of well-known Confederate figures have changed them since June. One of those is the newly dubbed Tyler Legacy High School in Tyler, Texas, formerly named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose name has become a lightning rod of controversy during recent months of nationwide racial tension.
“That name was not a black supporter,” said sophomore Trude Lamb, who is originally from Ghana. The star athlete spoke to the district’s board of education this summer urging members to consider what it meant for students like her to sport Lee’s name on school apparel.
“History is not there for you to like or dislike,” said Montgomery (Ala.) Public Schools board member Lesa Keith in response to audience comments at a July 14 meeting. “It is there for you to learn from it.” Keith, who retired as the social studies department head at the district’s Robert E. Lee High School, cast the lone “no” vote in the board’s 6-1 decision to change the school’s name. “If it offends you, even better,” he said. “Because then you are less likely to repeat it. It’s not yours to erase. It belongs to all of us.” —L.E.
Move over, robotics, high school students this school year can launch their STEM careers by joining a U.S. Department of Education challenge to build a cube-shaped research satellite that could undergo actual test flights if it reaches the final competition round. The Education Department developed the initiative to build technical skills in young people.
“This is such an exciting way to rethink education and get students engaged in hands-on learning in the growing aerospace and technology fields,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Up to five finalist schools will receive a share of cash and prizes and undergo intensive mentoring from experts in the field as they prepare their winning satellites for liftoff next spring. —L.E.