In a school year (we hope) unlike any other, we still learned a lot. Here are some of the things the BASIS Independent McLean community learned. 

1. We love in person school.  

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2. Challenge drives innovation.  

“I have always believed in the intensive use of manipulatives, mazes, games, and jigsaw puzzles to enable the logical thinking of the students; however, this pandemic year made it difficult to use these physical resources,” says Ms. Baljee, Math Subject Expert Teacher. Ms. Baljee expanded her digital repertoire of engaging math resources. “I used the knowledge I learned as a statistician to conditionally format and automate worksheets, mazes, and puzzles. Students were able to access these auto-grading worksheets, math jigsaw puzzles, math pixel art, and much more on their individual devices while we were hybrid learning and without having to use a shared resource. The students really enjoyed the online math games that I created. This pandemic has made us all richer by the experience and skills that we gained over these past 15 months.”   

3. You can smile with your eyes at any age 

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4. Seniors are prepared and confident for their next step. 

“Senior year in a pandemic was definitely interesting. I’m fortunate that school was open because a lot of my other friends had to do distance learning for a long time,” said Neel D. ’21. “As junior who had to distance learn for months, I know it’s not the best way to learn. I was back to class in August and meeting with my teachers and peers, and that collaboration is key. It’s something you can’t replicate online. I had a great time senior year, and I think I’m actually more prepared for college because of the pandemic.” 

5. Virtual parent meeting = no commute

Some parent meetings and events are even better virtually when no commute is necessary! 

6. Growing together takes many forms. 

Socially, academically, and in nature! For our fifth anniversary, we gave the traditional gift of wood in the form of a tree sapling! We are excited to continue to grow with our families. Additionally, gardens on campus grew thanks to our Garden Club and our grades 1-2 PCA reps! 

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7. Our community cares and takes care of each other.  

The care and consideration of all our parents, students, faculty, and staff kept our learning community safe this year. We stayed home when we were sick and made mindful choices when making travel and social plans. We are proud to have zero community spread cases of COVID, and we attribute that to each family following our community agreement. 

8. Without woodwinds or singing, music class becomes a rock band. 

“Our traditional music class was transformed into a rock band class, which better accommodated the type of instruments we could use safely,” said Music Subject Expert Teacher Mr. Rivera Pun. “Students were shocked to learn that they would not be able to use the instruments they had just learned the year before but, nonetheless, they had the best attitude and really practiced, while playing music that speaks to them without disregarding the technique and music theory necessary to succeed as a musician.”

9. Recess is still fun when socially distanced.

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10. Car light parades are awesome. 

“Our Hawks Care Committee pulled off one of the brightest events of the year. We dressed up our cars, drove through the rain to INOVA, and brightened the skies,” said Parent Community Association President Rohit S. “The kids on the top floor of the hospital shone down their flashlights to cheer us on, and five laps later, we were over the moon.” 


11. Flexibility is key in virtual competitions.

“Competing virtually is not very compatible with the traditional SciOly structure. It is not as fun, not as interactive. Many of the building and hands-on events moved to all test based,” says Phoenix D. ’25, who is the student leader of the club. “We all had to learn a new technology and platform to do tournaments. But we've proven to be very flexible and adapt easily to this new environment.” Read more in our blog on Science Olympiad.  

12. Traditions are still traditions, even if they look a little different. 

In lieu of our traditional Fall Festival, we brought autumn to each family in the form of pumpkins!    

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13. Technology keeps us connected when we can’t be on campus.  

“I liked using technology for games, talking with my friends, and school. Kahoot is my favorite,” says Tyler D.’ 29. Kahoot is an online trivia quiz-challenge that is used by many teachers on campus to review. 

14. It takes 103 gallon-sized bottles and a 55-gallon replacement drum of hand sanitizer to get through a school year. 

15. In a competition of aliens vs zombies (vs cicadas), aliens win.  

“Aliens vs Zombies is a competition between classmates and was created as a way to keep students focused during Comprehensive Exam review,” said Biology SET Ms. May. “This year has been hard, and it's been long, so I wanted to create a system that took the task of studying for comps and broke it down into small obtainable goals that the students could complete.”   

The students were placed in teams of four and those teams were either an Alien or a Zombie. “This increased competition allowed students to care about their understanding of individual objectives instead of focusing on the giant task of Comps as a whole,” said May.  “I saw a noticeable increase in student engagement.”  

16. There are many ways to greet people without a handshake or hug. 

"My favorite is an air high five!” says Hui Z. ’34. 

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17. The show will always go on.  

Beyond “the show” as school always finding a way, whether traditional, hybrid, or distance learning, our drama club always finds a way.  

“A drive-through play was a totally unique method of performing, and it gave the actors a chance to interact much more closely with the audience. I really enjoyed it!” says Sonja B. ’22, one of the lead actors. Learn more about the drive-through play here on our blog.

18. Sharing is still caring.  

Student learned and continued to share even when they had to play socially distanced.  

“They would still take turns and ask each other ‘can I have it when you’re done’,” says Ms. Echandia, Early Learning Teacher. “They missed playing next to each other. By the last trimester, they could play three feet apart, which was great to see.”  

19. You don’t need water to have fun with pool noodles.   



20. Everyone is ready for an unprecedented year to end. 

“This was a different kind of school year, but it was still a great school year. We started with some grades on campus full time and some grades in a hybrid model. The best day was when we were able to bring everyone to campus full time in the spring! While it didn’t look or feel the same, it created a real sense of community and school pride. We’re excited to reopen campus and return to a more traditional school year in the fall,” said Trisch Aust, Acting Head of School