At BYU-Idaho, all communication students are required to take a Writing For Communication course, also known as COMM 111.

Stephen Henderson, a faculty member who teaches the course, uses an assignment called Fly on the Wall, where students people-watch in a public place and write what they see.

This article is part of a series that showcases students’ Fly on the Wall pieces. All stories are edited by Scroll for grammar and clarity.

Waiting for class

Submitted by: Quinn Kunz

Tick, tick, tick.

A lanky boy sits with his laptop, waiting for class to start. Enough silence fills the empty room so that even the clock can be heard. The time is 12:55 p.m., twenty minutes before class.

A quiet hum radiates from the computer as distant voices pass in the hallway. A beam of light shoots across the room as a dark-haired girl with freckles walks through the doorway. She seats herself near the front, and softly mutters, “hey.”

As a few minutes pass, the boy’s focus breaks as the sound of teeth chewing a granola bar hurdles itself through the previously undisturbed room. Another student walks in, rescuing the lanky student from the torturous melody of chewing. A few more students shuffle in, conversing with each other. Whispers fade as they realize they’re alone in their speaking. Again, there’s silence.

A blonde-haired boy glances across the table at the dark-haired girl, surveying the scene. Eye contact. The recon mission is aborted. Back to homework.

A door creaks, then another. Seven in the room, but silence still prevails — each new student joining the game of chicken. Who will speak first?

A few more students enter the room. Stanley water bottles are placed on tables next to sticker-covered hydro flasks; this is just another day in the world of Gen-Zs.

The clock strikes 1:02 p.m., marking thirteen minutes until class starts. More water bottles clank on tables, more backpacks precariously lean against table legs and more ambient sound. Hushed voices discuss notecards and test-taking, as glances are exchanged across the room.

The teacher’s aide presses a button and two dozen eyes follow the projector screen as it slowly falls. Multiple whispered conversations slowly become louder, speaking over each other.

Finally, the silence is broken. “How was your weekend?” asks the blonde kid shooting his shot, soliciting a brief response from the dark-haired girl. A moment passes and he tries again, “What did you have for lunch?” he asks, in a surprising hail mary.

“Just a granola bar, actually. What about you?” she responds, continuing the conversation — a win for sure.

The class is bustling as friendships are made without reserve.

“We’re going to get started, I’m teaching today!” says the teacher’s aide.

The conversations stop. Silence has returned.

Fighting to stay awake

Submitted by: Bryson Bigler

Fighting to stay awake, many students in the classroom attempt to pay attention to the lecture. The British professor tries to draw the students closer with silly voices, jokes and laughs. The students fight to keep their eyes open.

A student snaps a photo of the board, hoping to retain the information through his phone’s photo library instead of his actual memory. He slides his device back onto the desk and continues to stare at the floor.

Another student in the back of the classroom types away on his laptop, indicating to everyone that listens to the class lecture is not important to him, as his classwork from a different class warrants his attention.

Another student nods along to the words spoken and pays close attention to every slide and metaphor. He smiles softly and rocks back and forth in his computer chair.

Another student scrolls through her computer, ignoring her keyboard, interested in whatever she sees on her screen. She finds it more entertaining than the lecture.

Students around campus during the first day of school.

Students around campus during the first day of school. Photo credit: BYU-Idaho photo by Natalia Lopez

The wonder of a child

Submitted by: Julia Hayden

As the drums roll and the cymbals clash, the empty track fills with the spirit of Ricks.

“Rix Stix,” the student drum line, begins their practice.

At 6:25 p.m. the sun begins to set, and students saunter home from a long day of homework. The buzz of testing center anxiety and scary professors rises from the shorts-wearing young adults. Some heads peer down at their phones and some look over at a cute girl doing a writing assignment at a blue outdoor table.

Amid the onset of a rigorous semester, one thing stops almost every student walking on this sidewalk: A mother and toddler sit together on the sloped grass hill in the only patch of sun left.

The toddler wobbles down the hill slowly, intrigued by the giants walking by. He teeters to the end of the grass, looking behind him for validation to go further. The mother complacently sits still.

Student after student stops to say “hello” to the curious blond-headed boy. They bend down and give fist bumps, make faces at the child and wag and wiggle a single hand while making stupid faces. The tucked-away childlike joy arises with the sight of a young boy with no worries of homework, scary professors or testing centers.

One little thing stops almost every student on this sidewalk: The wonder of a child.

The Thomas E. Ricks Building

Submitted by: Kaleb Hawkins

The Thomas E. Ricks Building — a cozy part of campus, beloved by psych majors.

The building has both a busy and quiet atmosphere. Tables are scattered, cushioned seats line a wall, the occasional student or professor stamps down the central staircase.

Six students sit at the tables, all busy in some respect. The first student has a textbook beside her, and she flicks back and forth between her book and her laptop screen. She works diligently, and nothing breaks her concentration. Except for a singular phone call she politely takes outside. She returns to her work unfazed.

The second student stares intently at his screen with a notebook and pencil in hand. A third pulls out a snack and rustles the packaging, a rare sound breaking the silence.

The fourth student sits at a corner table, mouth agape. It’s been quite some time since he has used his keyboard, but occasionally his fingers lightly meander across his computer, adding a sentence. He returns, staring at his computer blankly.

The fifth student, in the center of the room, seems distressed. His feet bounce anxiously and his notebook remains blank, his pen poised ready to write. A professor approaches the anxious student. He speaks softly to him and the student gets up and follows the professor out of the building, hopefully receiving the help he needs.

The final student takes a vacant seat and sets to work. She sits down, setting her laptop in front of her and her notebook carefully beside it. Sitting back, she pulls out her phone. Her thumb continually pushes the screen of her phone, presumably doom scrolling her time away, procrastinating the homework she’d rather not think about.

Student studying at the MC Crossroads.

Student studying at the MC Crossroads.

Library, ropes, and potential lovers

Submitted by: Paisley Layton

The day shines bright, and BYU-Idaho students appear preoccupied with persistent thoughts of completing their homework before the due date.

In the David O. McKay Library, students are slouched at round tables and small, crowded cubicles. The room smells like someone’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich as new individuals enter the room and try to find an empty seat.

The chatter remains at a minimum, but words still manage to float to an eager, listening ear. A male student wearing a rainbow-patterned shirt tries to get a few girls to guess which country he’s from.

One of the girls cries out with frustration, “Is it Bolivia?”

The guy disappointingly shakes his head.

Another girl pleads, “Oh, please give us a hint! What does it start with?”

The guy in the expressive shirt once again shakes his head, refusing to give in. He leans in toward the girls, encouraging them to continue guessing.

Across the room, a boy and a girl in their early twenties struggle with some sort of exercise involving a rope. They each have their own red-striped rope tied to both wrists, and the boy’s and girl’s ropes ensnare one another. It appears the activity requires them to separate from each other and untangle the ropes.

“I don’t know how they got it. I can’t figure it out,” the girl mutters.

Both the girl and the boy try squatting down together, and the girl attempts to step over the rope. This maneuver only leads to the girl leaning and falling into the boy’s chest. The girl giggles, her cheeks turning bright crimson as she adjusts herself again.

After all of that effort, the thin ropes remain entangled.

The boy now experiments with twisting around the girl — the movement fails to do the trick. He tries spinning the girl around in a circle but that misfires as well leaving the pair at a greater level of confusion. Two girls appear at their side — maybe some good friends from a class — with similar colors and ropes. They demonstrate to the boy and girl how they position the ropes just right, so one rope loops through the other, allowing the two ropes to separate when they pull.

The boy and girl follow precisely what the girls show them. This time, the pretzel of ropes unravels and the boy and girl come apart.