By: Charlotte Foulger — Correspondent
This year, School Adjustment Counselor Mr. Mahesh Balan introduced the Zoom Show, a virtual opportunity for anyone at Sharon High School, to discuss various important topics and be able to use their voices. “The Zoom Show is important because it is a vehicle to bring people together,” Balan said.
“It helps us communicate our thoughts, values, and opinions,” added Balan.
Balan’s show is run on Zoom and students and teachers can also run the show with him as co-hosts. He says he thought that “it would be a great platform to have students and staff work together and present ideas and discussion topics they wanted to share but that were still connected to racial equity, community development, and growth.” Balan has also led discussion groups in the past at his previous jobs as a Gang Prevention Coordinator with the D.A.’s Office, a Probation Officer, and as the Dean of Students at Weymouth High School.
Balan says he decided to do the Zoom Show after he went to a “Black Lives Matter” rally at Ames field across from high school. He says he was thinking, “How do we all still stay engaged in conversation and actively participate in activities in which we feel involved?”
“It is done in a safe environment where I won’t let anyone say anything offensive or hurtful,” said Balan. He says at the show, people can learn how to talk and be heard in these deeper conversations. “You have to back up your statements with fact and not just your opinion, and you have to learn how to listen to others who have a different view from your own,” said Balan. He says that these skills are also important ones to have in life.
Balan says his favorite Zoom Show sessions have been the ones where members talked about how they are remaining resilient in the pandemic. “A fun one was when we talked about music that we listen to and we shared our favorite bands and artists,” said Balan. He says he liked how at this session there were both teachers and students.
Junior Destiny Prioleau has attended the Zoom Show and says she likes that it’s a safe environment for all members. Prioleau says she also likes “how free and comfortable that I feel when I attend.”
Prioleau says her favorite session was one where they talked about the Netflix show When They See Us. She says she felt that “it was very impactful and it was nice to hear other people’s opinions and thoughts on the matter.”
Prioleau says she thinks that the Zoom Show is important to the SHS community because students and teachers discuss important topics, such as racial injustices in our world, but also get to have lighter conversations.
Senior Yesha Sharma has also attended the Zoom Show. Sharma attended one of the first Zoom Shows about racial inequality, specifically about Elementary school students wanting to create their own Social Justice Club. Sharma agreed with Prioleau that the Zoom Show has a good environment for attendees. Sharma says that “it’s definitely important because students should not be scared to talk about important topics and it’s a great place to feel involved within our school community.” She also says that she likes how the show is very free-spirited and all students have a voice during the discussions.
English Language Arts Coordinator Ms. Rebecca Smoler has also attended the Zoom Show. Smoler says she has sadly only attended one session, one on the Friday after the Atlanta shooting, where attendees watched videos shown by Balan about anti-Asian racism and could process these as well as recent events and continuing anti-Asian racism in the US.
Smoler says she likes that at the Zoom Show, attendees can share with one another and ask questions on a regular basis. “Any opportunities for connecting and community building are important, especially this year when so many folks may feel disconnected due to challenges from Covid,” said Smoler.
image from theverge.com