Many students think fondly of their shadow experiences at McNick, remembering who they followed around and all the classes they saw that day. One’s shadow experience is often a pivotal factor in their high school decision process. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the admissions department needed to alter shadow experiences to ensure the safety of prospective students as well as maintaining the opportunity to interact with current students and gain insight into the “McNick Experience.”
“The biggest components of a successful shadow day were having prospective students be given the opportunity to know what a classroom experience is like… [and], with that, the interaction with current students. The campus is the grounds, the buildings, and classrooms, but where it comes alive is with [ambassadors]. That’s what the [prospective students] want to see and what they want to know. So, creating an experience where they can get both those things, was the primary goal and primary concern because of restrictions and what we felt was safe,” Assistant Director of Admissions and Enrollment David Albert said.
Before prospective students even enter the campus, they receive a phone call from a student ambassador to prepare them for the events ahead. Some ambassadors, such as sophomore Andy Edwards, make multiple calls each night to ensure every prospective student has the opportunity to make a connection with an ambassador beforehand. “Once they come in, they’ll hear a voice that they probably can recognize, like mine… and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I know this person. I can maybe hang with him,’” Edwards said.
Throughout the shadow experience, prospective students spend time outside to observe the athletic facilities in Paradise, as well as a classroom experience with the entire group of ten to twelve prospective students, which differs from past years of following the class schedule of one particular ambassador. However, the most notable change to the McNick shadow experience is the interactive scavenger hunt. Senior Tiffany Ton said, “We take the [prospective students] around the school and scan QR codes that are on the walls… It will be clues or a fact, and it would be like, ‘hola,’ or ‘bonjour,’ and we would know to go to the language hall.” Edwards added that, “I think it’s more beneficial because some students last year would shadow on a block day, and they’d only see half the school where[as] this time, they get to see the whole entire school and what’s made of it.”
Overall, the general response to the altered shadow experiences from prospective students and parents has been overwhelmingly positive. Director of Admissions and Enrollment Laurie Carigan said, “I have not heard anything negative, to be honest. Some of the kids that come from schools that we might not have had a shadow yet from…the next day or two when they go back to school, all of a sudden, we start getting shadows from that school. They must be going back and saying they’ve had fun.”
Despite all the restrictions and changes to shadow experiences, McNick still provides an opportunity to form connections with prospective students so that they feel welcome among the community. Freshman Lucas Hannah said, “It doesn’t matter if I have a mask on. The connection verbally and emotionally is what matters. We still have good conversations, and I can show them what makes McNick good.”