Just as Concord Academy faculty adjust classes and schedules in light of the closure of campus due to COVID-19, members of the senior class, too, are collaborating to ensure a happy and successful end to the school year and their CA careers. Led by Senior Class President Haley Wixom ’20 and Senior Class Representative Charmaine Ko ’20, seniors are making sure that no part of the CA experience – including revered senior traditions, community social events, and peer support – will fall through the cracks as the student body adjusts to a distance-learning model.
According to Haley, the primary goal is to “maintain a sense of community and remain engaged with CA.” To do so, Haley and Charmaine led four class-wide calls on Google Hangouts on March 14 covering Chapels and Traditions, Virtual Events, Mental Health, and Volunteering and Community Engagement. From these calls, they designed an Action Plan that they later shared with administrators.
Seniors immediately emphasized the importance of continuing senior chapel talks and the rituals they encompass, including chapel emails the night prior, both the friend bench and the friend section, chapel posters, and chapel music. To account for each chapel giver’s personal comfortability, seniors hoped to keep the tradition flexible with live, pre-recorded, or text-only chapel talks. Other spring events that seniors prioritized continuing included senior mug decorating, the final all-school meeting, and the formal dance, originally scheduled for May 2.
Haley emphasized that, without on-campus learning, students would miss “the opportunity to connect with a range of people that they haven’t had the opportunity to yet.” Based on the Google Hangouts calls, a new Senior Class Events calendar already has a number of plans in place: a Snack and Chat, a cooking class with Ben Faerman ’20, a workout with Charmaine Ko ’20, knitting with Sae Gleba ’20, and Open Mic Night. Other possible future plans include a game night, speed friending, meals together, painting, “SHAC” (stay home activity community) nights, a movie night, group story writing, and an art exhibit.
While these events provide fun amid quarantine, they are also crucial for maintaining a sense of normalcy and camaraderie. Haley said, “I think one of the main problems with the coronavirus pandemic is feeling isolated, so leaning into CA at a time when it’s really easy to disengage can really bring us together.”
Seniors also hoped to extend these opportunities to the entire school through peer support programs like CA Buddies and the Peer Mentor program and through volunteering, whether virtual tutoring, letter writing to assisted living homes, or calling elected officials.
Haley feels deeply grateful to be a part of this senior class, emphasizing that “so many different people joined in; it definitely wasn’t the same group of five people every time.”
Meredith Benjamin ’20, one member of the senior class involved in this planning, added, “This hurts, and it’s definitely not what we imagined for our senior spring, but my pride in our grade remains resilient. This is an opportunity to be creative, to unify, and to go to extraordinary lengths for one another. We have confirmed, though reluctantly and for unwelcome reasons, that CA is more than just the place we go to school. This is not the story of how something bad ruined something good: it’s the story of how something good emerged from something bad.”
In communicating the seniors’ plans to the administration, Haley complimented their openness and adaptability. “The administration has been extremely supportive. The flexibility that they’ve shown and the willingness to listen to students’ voices has really come through. [Dean of Students] Sally Zimmerli even emailed me at 10:30 on a Saturday night.”
Seniors continue to support each other through these difficult times, as part of the Action Plan and beyond. Whether on the senior Messenger group chat, the senior Facebook group, or class-wide video calling, seniors remain fiercely dedicated to the community that they’ve cultivated.
Haley’s sentiments ring true with much of the senior class: “This is our family, this is our home.”