The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Faces & Places: Students recreate Hockaday world using Minecraft

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//PICTURED ABOVE: Sophomore Olivia Weeldreyer navigates through her own Minecraft realm of the Hockaday campus.


Two weeks into the uncertain, idle days of distance learning away from campus, sophomore Olivia Weeldreyer signed onto a weekly Form II meeting on Zoom. Soon after, Weeldreyer and fellow sophomores Riya Guttigoli, Megan Vettoretti, Lucy Roberts, Kathryn Sands and Cristiana Miele began a reconstruction of the Hockaday campus on Minecraft.

Upon hearing her classmates reminisce about the “normal” life at school that ended abruptly with the arrival of COVID-19, Weeldreyer decided to take action.

When people started talking about how much they miss Hockaday, I started thinking about fun ways I could recreate the campus,” Weeldreyer said.

As the head of the Minecraft Club, she came up with the idea of constructing the campus on Minecraft to stoke school spirit. Approaching the project, however, seemed daunting, Weeldreyer said.

“It felt very overwhelming to be faced with an infinitely flat landscape, knowing that I was tasked with building our campus,” Weeldreyer said. “It was pretty much the Minecraft equivalent of opening a blank tab in Microsoft Word, knowing you have to write a big paper.”

Using her 10 years at Hockaday, she was able to recall enough detail to start constructing the campus on Minecraft. Several classmates also helped her approach the project. The group has been working on the project relatively consistently since Weeldreyer introduced the idea, visiting the realm individually every couple of days. 

“Since it’s such an elaborate layout, we were a little tentative about the whole design, and Maddie and I had discussed a lot about the theoretical blueprints and stuff but Olivia was the one who finally put everything together and got started with the outline, which is amazing,” Guttigoli said.

Miele asked to help after hearing about the project. It spiked her interest because she and Olivia played Minecraft together in their spare time on campus before Spring Break. She joined shortly after Weeldreyer and a few of the other students involved looked into the blueprints of the campus.

My personal goal for the project is to create a world where I can be at school because I currently cannot right now,” Miele said.

Along with using the realm to be “present” on campus, Miele and Weeldreyer both said they have used the realm to connect during distance learning.

“It’s helped me keep in contact with friends that I don’t get to see during Zoom meetings, either for advisory or other classes,” Weeldreyer said. “It’s a fun way to engage in something Hockaday-related outside of classes, and it’s nice to feel that sense of community with others in a virtual platform that I never thought I would be using for anything related to school.”

So far, Weeldreyer has created the outline for the majority of the campus, and the group is now working on filling in the interior and the smaller details. She has made sure to include smaller landmarks of the school such as the Jade plant. Weeldreyer noted the Jade plant as one of her favorite pieces to include in the project, along with other similar landmarks she misses about the campus.

“I have a rough outline of the school buildings and I have color-coded areas where there are paths, fields, playgrounds and tennis courts,” Weeldreyer said. “I’m hoping in the next few weeks to be able to build in the classrooms offices, and other structures that make Hockaday so unique to each student.”

While distance learning served as the inspiration, it has also provided those involved more time to work on the realm.

“Admittedly I have used this project to procrastinate on some other assignments in the past few weeks,” Weeldreyer said. “Playing Minecraft isn’t exactly a big risk when it comes to social distancing, as the realm can be played from anywhere.”

With the extra time on their hands, they are looking to complete the reconstruction of the campus and possibly share it with others.

“My goal is obviously to create a completed version of our school in the coming weeks, but beyond that I’m not really sure,” Weeldreyer said. “If people want to gain access to it to help, or to walk through once it’s completed, I’d be very eager to invite people.”

While the group does not yet know exactly what they will do with the completed project, constructing the realm has helped provide some unity and a sense of familiarity.

“It’s been kind of a virtual outlet for us to be at Hockaday, since we all miss it, while simultaneously having fun with something we all love,” Guttigoli said.


Story by Anna Gum, Views Editor

Photos provided by Olivia Weeldreyer

 

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