These days, we could all use a little more laughter and joy. Two Upper School students are fighting our collective sense of isolation and malaise, helping K-12 students feel a sense of togetherness throughout the pandemic.
Last spring, Sophie C. '21 and Loucas X. '21 ran together for the Student Council position All-School Spirit Master, something they’ve been planning since the start of high school, “maybe even 8th grade,” says Loucas. The two friends knew they’d be stronger together. “Sophie, who’s been on student council for all of high school, knows how to get things done. She does a better job of making things on paper happen in real life than anybody else I know,” says Loucas. “Where I come in is the overenthusiastic hypeman aspect.”
At the beginning of the year, they prioritized welcoming the 9th graders and fostering a sense of community, as many freshmen are new to Head-Royce. The task “proved difficult” but Sophie and Loucas were able to organize an on-campus field day. “It was super fun for both the students and teachers,” says Sophie. “Virtually we’ve made efforts to host large Zooms with ice breakers (thank you to the 12th grade prefects for helping!).”
Thinking back on the last four years, both cite the All-School Fair Haunted House as a favorite event. “I was a freshman,” says Loucas, “and I really believe from that day forward, my goal was to try and replicate that feeling I had for our students and faculty (and myself as well) with every Spirit event that ever followed.”
“When I think of in-person events that I miss most, my brain quickly comes to the All-School Fair Haunted House and school dances,” says Sophie. “Setting up for the Welcome Back Dance and the Winterball always brought up fun memories. I think dances are a great way for students from all grades to come together and have fun. They are naturally the least COVID-safe events we could hold, so they are definitely missed.”
When asked to name a favorite event they’ve organized this year, the two balk. They can’t choose just one, they say, because they “take pride in every one and they each serve a different purpose in the community.” Rather, their highlights reel includes:
The Halloween “Trunk-or-Treat” was very successful and we were excited to include the whole community, K-12.
For the Upper School, we organized a teacher thank-you slideshow presentation for students to fill out. Each teacher was extremely grateful to receive a slideshow of kind messages from their students. This was over Thanksgiving break. We are proud of this, because the notes from students really made each faculty member's week.
For the Senior Class, the most successful event was our “senior day” on campus. We planned out stations and activities to create a fun and competitive environment.
To pull this all off, they had “many meetings with the Dean of Students, Naoko Akiyama,” who, they say, “has been instrumental in the success of every spirit event this year.” They also credit “the accommodations that Naoko, Ms. McKenna, and Andy Spear” make for them. “Consistently squeezing our meetings in between lunches or early in the morning, and responding quickly to our spammed texts, they are always receptive of our ideas and enthusiastic about how we can go about pursuing them.”
“I think one of the main lessons I have learned this year is that most things are, in fact, possible, even if they are harder to organize or plan during COVID-19,” says Sophie. For inspiration to keep working and thinking positively in hard times, she looks to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
As for Loucas, he’d like to rewrite an old saying. “It doesn’t matter whether the glass is half full or half empty, just fill the darn thing till it overflows.”
How lucky are we to have such energetic, caring students raising our spirits?