The classrooms and hallways of Eastern Christian High School are silent during lunch time. In the autumn of 2020, there are no meetings, planning, or even student chatter. To easily social distance, all students are outside, and student government no longer exists.
Class Council leaders speak out about changes in student government due to new COVID-19 situations.
High School Principal David Intlekofer and the Student Services Team came to the decision over the summer that it is not practical to continue with school clubs and organizations that meet during lunch time. One of the new COVID-19 protocols for the 2020/21 school year requires all students to either eat lunch outside in a social distancing manner, or to eat socially distanced in their second block classrooms if the weather is unpleasant. With such restrictions, students cannot host meetings in classrooms, especially when lunch takes place indoors. “Additionally, we really need lunch to be a break time right now, not a meeting time,” states Ms. Elizabeth Van Ryn, sophomore Class Council head sponsor.
Without Class Council, there will be no student events, fundraisers, or service projects. “I think it’s really sad,” senior Class Council head sponsor Mrs. Alisa Engelhard laments. “The events like homecoming and activities that grades would put on makes the community special and helps students to connect.” Mrs. Engelhard comments on how her senior Class Council has worked as a team for many years. Miss Van Ryn adds, “without Class Council we will lose a vital way for students to lead and influence the school.”
The future of Class Council is unknown. Mrs. Engelhard hopes for its return to come at least by the second semester, and Ms. Van Ryn predicts its return once EC is used to the “new normal” and starts to slowly bring back programs. After all, if the pandemic allows, there are plenty of events to be planned, including potential senior events and the Junior and Senior Banquet.
Although organizations such as Class Council are taking a pause, students have a chance to seek leadership positions elsewhere. Mrs. Engelhard suggests that students lead through the Faith in Action program. Ms. Van Ryn mentions that although chapel is different and homeroom is new, both are areas in which students can be leaders. Students can also offer to help teachers who are also working in conditions that they have never seen before. Ms. Van Ryn encourages the creativity of students in her classrooms and invites student suggestions.
The Class Council sponsors are praying for health and vaccines in the near future so that students can hopefully return to their leadership positions and EC can have activities, fundraisers, and service projects again. The EC community may feel “stuck,” as Mrs. Engelhard explains, but she encourages the student body to stay positive.