Virtual Coffee Zoom Mini-Reunions

Notes for Participants in U High ’67
Virtual Coffee Mini-Reunions

All U High ’67 classmates are invited to join in a series of “Virtual Coffee” mini-reunions using the Zoom meeting platform.

Our first Virtual Coffee took place July 14, 2020. The second call (VC2) took place January 12, 2021, with 30 classmates participating! The third (VC3) was on July 21, 2021, with somewhat fewer attendees but a wonderful, free-flowing exchange of plans, hopes, and dreams. You can read about the VC3 agenda below. The agenda for the next call will be posted prior to the event.

Video and audio recordings of each Virtual Coffee call are available to review or download for approximately 90 days following each call. Click here to view or download a full high-definition video of the July 21st VC3 call.


Helpful Information and Hints for Zoom Users

If you’re unfamiliar with Zoom, click here to go to section of this page that can help you get set up to participate in the call, or simply scroll down past the Conversation Prompts.

If you have followed the instructions but are not sure whether you have set up Zoom properly, go to the Zoom Join Meeting Test page and click “Join”. You will join a test Zoom call with only yourself in it, and Zoom will prompt you so that you can test your speaker, microphone, and camera.

While you’re getting used to Zoom, please make sure you know how to do the following three essential tasks that you will need to do during the call:

  • mute/unmute your microphone
  • stop/start your camera
  • open the chat window


Agenda for the VC3 Call

Brief Reintroductions

We’ll be opening the meeting with brief reintroductions. Introduce yourself and be prepared to give a quick answer to one of these questions:

  • If you won the lottery today, what is the one first thing you would purchase?

  • What do you love to do on a rainy day?

Storytelling Prompts

In VC3 it’s time to look forward. Been looking at that bucket list? Join your classmates in sharing plans, hopes, and dreams.

Here are some ideas to get those wheels turning:

  1. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world and money wasn’t an issue, where would you go?
  2. What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet?
  3. Have you lived one of your dreams?
  4. In general, what do you wish you could do more of?
  5. What’s something (large or small) you once did that turned out more successful than you imagined?
  6. The Summer Olympics begin in two days. If you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you compete in?
  7. What do you like to do in your spare time?
  8. Why did you move to the place you live now?
  9. What would we be surprised to know about you?
  10. What makes you smile even when you’ve had the worst day?


Getting Ready for a Zoom Virtual Meeting —
Easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

(Adapted by Tom Smerling)

First - pick your device


  • Recommended
  • Bigger screen


  • Good Choice
  • Audio and Video

Cell Phone

  • Not recommended
  • Screen too small

Second - pick your seat

Find a spot where signal strength is strong. Get closer to your WiFi modem if signal strength is low. (The more bars the better.)

Avoid locations where signal strength is weak. Also, consider “wired” connection (see below).

Third - practice and PLAY before the session starts

Load Zoom Software

Watch TWO 2-minute training videos

Practice and play!


First - What DEVICE should I use?

  1. The bigger the screen the better! A large screen will display more images in more detail (laws of physics). Normally, your computer at home has the largest screen. But — your device needs to have SOUND as well. And a camera is helpful too. We are all cooped up at home and it is good to see each other! So, ask your home tech support if your home computer has a SCREEN, CAMERA, and SOUND. (Cameras and speakers are common as “standard” equipment on laptops. This is less the case with desktop systems — they are likely not to have a camera or a microphone; the speaker or speakers, if installed, may provide less-than-acceptable sound quality).
  2. Tablets are a very good choice as well. Modern iPads, Android devices, and other tablets have screens with integrated video and audio. This may be the best choice for you if you are not comfortable with desktop/laptop computers. Think about using a stand — a video for a simple homemade stand is HERE.
  3. Cell phones will work, but are not recommended. The screen is typically too small to see everybody and see screen-shared graphics. For the best experience, we suggest a computer or a tablet. However, you can always join by telephone (cell or land), which will be audio-only, of course.

Second - Where do I sit?

  1. You want the best signal you can get for smooth audio and video. Find a comfortable place to sit where the signal meter reads the highest. In general, the closer you are to your router (usually an ATT box, a SPECTRUM box, or a GOOGLE box) is best. Note than in a number of markets, the modem supplied by your service provider (e.g., Cox, Xfinity, etc.) has a WiFi router built in.
  2. For the very best possible speeds and the ultimate in reliability, connect your computer to your router with an Ethernet CABLE — watch THIS. Note: many late-model laptops are not equipped with an Ethernet jack; in that case, you may require some type of adapter (e.g., Ethernet-to-USB-C).
  3. Consider the lighting in your space — if there is a large, bright light source directly behind you (for example a picture window) you may end up “backlit”. This might make you look rather tan (if you’re Caucasian) or even like a wrinkled-up old raisin if you’re a darker-complected person-of-color.

Third - How do I get started with Zoom?

  1. First, establish a FREE Zoom personal account and download/install the Zoom app.
  2. Next, watch TWO tiny training videos
  3. Finally, Practice and Play - For many people the easiest way to get comfortable with Zoom is to simply start (i.e. host) a private solo practice meeting. Here’s how:
    1. Go to the Zoom website at and login to your account (in upper right).
    2. On the Zoom home page, mouse over the “host a meeting” button in upper right from the dropdown menu, and select “with video on”.
    3. A small pop-up window will appear asking, “Open Zoom Meetings?” Click button to “Open Zoom meeting”.
    4. Another small pop-up will appear with audio options. Click the blue button to “Join with Computer Audio”.
    5. You’re in your own meeting now! Take it for a test drive.
    6. To see the Zoom in-meeting controls, mouse to the bottom of the screen until the Control Panel pops up.
    7. Then try out these three basic controls, which are all you need for most meetings including the U-High Virtual Coffee.
      • Mute/Unmute your microphone 
      • Start/Stop your camera
      • Open/Close the chat window
      Note: How to use these and other controls is explained in training video #2 above.

A final tip: If you ever get stuck and can’t figure something out, the fastest way to solve a Zoom problem is simply to Google the question. The first results will include a Zoom tech support page devoted to your exact question.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that Zooming is fun and a great way to connect with friends and family. Enjoy!

PS: If you feel you really have this “dialed,” and would be happy to lend your new-found expertise to a fellow classmate, let us know — depending on how popular these sessions become, there may be a role for an entire “help desk” department (of which you could become a founding member!)