Levy organizes seventh grade class reunion over Zoom

Tiffany Soe

When former seventh grade English and social studies teacher Joie Nolasco from Mesa Verde Middle School retired two years ago, Sammy Levy (11) was upset that he was likely not going to see her. Before then, he had continued to visit her regularly. To Levy, being in Nolasco’s class was a memorable and impactful experience. 

“She always had so much knowledge to share on every subject,” Levy said. “You always felt like you were learning. I definitely felt like her class helped make me a more well-rounded person.”

Levy said that one thing he learned that is especially relevant to today is the importance of being adaptable and making a backup plan when unexpected obstacles arise. And Nolasco’s retirement didn’t stop Levy from keeping in contact with one of his favorite teachers. Earlier this year, Levy with a few former classmates and Nolasco planned to have lunch together at a local restaurant, but unfortunately, due to COVID-19, their plan was cancelled. So Levy decided to host a reunion with his former teacher over a Zoom meeting.

“I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t meet in person for lunch as planned,” Levy said. “But I’m glad we still made the best of the situation.”

In one week, Levy was able to contact his former classmates and friends about the Zoom meeting with Nolasco. And in the next week, Levy and 10 of Nolasco’s former students were able to see each other face-to-face on Zoom, April 17. 

“I thought this Zoom reunion really helped change my perspective on the unique circumstance we are living through right now,” Levy said. “She inspired me to start appreciating the things we can still do during quarantine rather than getting bogged down thinking about everything we’re missing out on.”

During the time they had together, Nolasco shared with her former students her traveling experiences and her investment in other hobbies. Then, the students took turns talking about their own life updates, including trips they had been on, plans they had for the future and hobbies they picked up during social-distancing. Levy said he was delighted being able to catch up with Nolasco and with his former classmates.

“I felt really glad to be reconnecting with a former teacher I had looked up to so much,” Levy said. “In planning this event, I was very excited to be doing something that would hopefully be a fun experience for both Ms. Nolasco and her [former] students. I thought it would be extremely meaningful for my classmates and I to participate in a meeting like this, as it would remind us of all the impactful lessons we learned in Ms. Nolasco’s class.”

One experience that made Levy look up to Nolasco was when Nolasco postponed a field trip to Balboa Park the morning of the day they were supposed to go after hearing reports of an active shooter in the area. Nolasco did everything to plan every detail of the trip only for it to get cancelled the day of, but Nolasco chose caution over her hard work to plan the event.

“Her actions in this situation helped teach me that even though it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, you can still stand tall and form a new plan with the hand you’ve been dealt,” Levy said.

With all these learning experiences, Levy’s reunion with Nolasco and his former classmates was a positive experience, as they were able to connect even during a pandemic.

“It was great talking to someone who has as much wisdom to share as Ms. Nolasco,” Levy said. “[She taught me] that it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things sometimes.”