With the pandemic affecting school spirit and activities, Student Council gets creative
Student Council has found ways to be creative when planning events meant to unify the community this year. Annual traditions such as pep rallies, school dances and football games have all changed because of COVID-19 guidelines. And it has been up to the Council to figure out new ways to keep the community engaged.
“Student Council’s main job is to unify the community,” sophomore class leader Amelia Sinwell said. “All of our meetings have the goal of making the student body and teachers have a fun time and connect more. The student body week activities are made for the student body.”
The movie night on March 11 had to be contact traceable, the snack shack had to be organized by SAGE and pep rallies had to be socially distanced. However, Student Council came up with other ways, such as dress days and special treats, including doughnuts in the morning, to make events like Homecoming and Student Body Week seem relatively normal.
“We have faced many challenges but the main challenge has been coming up with fun activities [while still contract tracing,]” sophomore class leader Jack Massey said. “This year has been something that we’ve never experienced on the Student Council, but we’re making the most out of it.”
For instance, before the Homecoming football game, Student Council was planning to have a movie night with the entire high school student body, but with COVID-19 cases rising, they were unable to have it until this past month when it finally got rescheduled.
“The movie night idea at the end of Student Body Week was actually [what] we’ve been trying to get approved since the fall,” Massey said. “Cases just kept going up so we were finally able to do it during student body week in March and it was a success. We socially distanced and held the event outside with masks as well as arranging seating by English class.”
Movie night, which featured the film “Knives Out,” was held outdoors in God’s Front Yard. Students were encouraged to bring pillows and blankets and were then separated by English classes. Snacks were provided by SAGE to ensure safety with cross-contamination. The entire week leading up to Friday was Student Body Week, which consisted of dress days and fun surprises for the students. With the challenges of this year, building relationships with the administration has been crucial to making this year successful.
“We have pushed for whatever we can, but we don’t have dances and we don’t have those typical things so we have tried to build relationships with the deans and the administration,” senior and Student Body President Ava Thompson said. “This way when opportunities arise they trust Student Council enough to do them.”
Earlier this semester Student Council held the Freshman Leadership Retreat, where the upperclassmen provided insight into what it takes to be an effective leader. They had discussions with some council members and learned how to be a high schooler that people look up to.
“We broke into small groups and discussed ‘What Would You Do?’ scenarios,” freshman Addison Page said. “It was very helpful for us to see the perspective of others and the importance of an inclusive environment. I feel closer and more connected to my peers and I learned that being a leader is much more than just having a title. It is setting a positive example and being an advocate for the community.”
The leadership retreat was modified to adhere to COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and mask-wearing. As this school year has progressed, Student Council has gotten used to the COVID-19 rules, which has made it a lot easier to plan events. In the final months of this school year, Student Council has come up with several ideas to unify the community, including collaborations with the art department.
“With ISAS being canceled we wanted to create something at ESD that the art students can do since their shows and galleries have been canceled,” Thompson said. “We wanted to do an art appreciation week the first week of April because the virtue of the month is creativity to let the art students know that we appreciate their work.”
In addition to unifying the community on campus, Student Council is also faced with making sure remote learners still felt included and part of the community. Although it was difficult, they were able to safely pull off quite a few events for the community.
“For meetings, we have added a virtual component so that remote learners can still be a part of our weekly meetings,” Student Council Faculty Sponsor Megan Schroeder said. “We didn’t want anyone to feel like they had less of a place on Student Council just because they were learning remotely for a long period of time or for contact tracing. I have been so impressed with how the executive officers, council and entire student body have adapted to the changes we have had to make this year.”