In a normal year, August brings high school seniors a host of fun back to school events along with a challenging work schedule. Seniors, many of whom have leadership positions in various after school clubs and activities, are busy getting things up and running. But this is not a normal year.
With most schools starting a week later and only online, it will be challenging to engage students in after school activities, yet critically important. Students have been out of school since mid-March, and isolated from their peers. Activities help reduce stress and give students an outlet to make and connect with friends. Especially considering that students no longer have the ability to see friends on a day-to-day basis, it is extremely important that school administrations find a way to conduct activities in some capacity.
To be sure, there are challenges. Elections for leadership in clubs usually happen at the end of every school year, but due to the pandemic, this past year most elections were postponed to the fall. This has left a strange gap for faculty activity sponsors, as elections are generally aided by the previous year’s student leaders. Without leadership in place and with schools still operating online, faculty administrators are in uncharted waters.
Similarly, without the opportunity to meet in person, it is hard to organize meetings and reach out to potential new members. Clubs that need new underclassmen recruits may dwindle, and activities that do not take place in school may not have a setting for meetings.
Miami-Dade School System and private educators have been mainly focused on the academic component of the fall semester, waiting to plan non-academic components of schools until after a smooth fall start. This, like everything else during this period, could be an opportunity to think outside the box, and for upperclassmen especially to step up to the plate. Students, along with faculty, parents and the community, could be the very leaders needed to create the guidelines and procedures for viable and safe variations of their extra curriculars.
Especially for our seniors who might be missing the usual milestones like homecoming, prom and graduation, taking up positions in activities will allow for some semblance of a senior year.
Whether school is online or in person, school activities are absolutely imperative to a smooth back to school transition. Try not to stress, ride the wave, and be part of the solution.