When Kelli Morris was elected by her peers to the highest student leadership position at CHS last year, she looked forward to following in the footsteps of her predecessors in planning and executing student-centered activities. The ASB is responsible for organizing back to school welcome activities, dances, pep rallies, and other contests and events that foster school spirit and unity. Each ASB class puts its own creative spin on themes and styles for student events; but the events themselves are generally the same time and format year after year. Until 2020.
Over the summer, as the start of the school year approached, Morris and CHS ASB Advisor Nicole Belong realized that everything would be different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year would not be business as usual and they were going to have to get very creative, very quickly.
Morris and ASB Vice President Sydney Slaughter attended a week-long virtual version of the student leadership camp that in ‘normal times’ student leaders from all over the state would attend in-person. “It was a lot of time on Zoom, but we were able to get a ton of ideas, like how to do a virtual pep rally (edited video is better than livestream), and also talk online with other ASB leaders in California about what they were doing for virtual back to school events.”
The ASB class went all out for the first week of school, hosting virtual pajama day, a TikTok challenge, and Coronado Tourist Days; all of which encouraged students to post photos of themselves participating in spirit events. “We had really great participation in back to school week,” said Morris.
She also added that Freshman Orientation was a great way to reach CHS’s newest Islanders. “All credit to Samantha Lorr, our Commissioner of Finance, for her work to organize the orientation. We had a Zoom group orientation and then broke off into smaller ‘rooms’ to give the new students a better opportunity to ask questions.” ASB leaders went an extra step and contacted many of the new students a week or so after the event to check-in. Making personal connections is a district-wide focus and CHS ASB is leading the way.
Trying to stay motivated while distanced has been a challenge, but Morris says, “Ms. Belong has been awesome, her Zoom classes are the best and she has the most positive attitude... even when I text her multiple times a day!”
One of the biggest events of the year for ASB planning is Homecoming. Morris said that the tentative date is Feb. 19, 2021. “According to the new football schedule, we will have a home game that week. We also hope to do the usual parade and everything, and also some kind of get-together at an outdoor venue. It will all depend on the regulations at the time.”
Despite school leaders trying to make connections, create school spirit, and plan fun virtual events, Morris said the mood of the students can be (understandably) “a little negative, but the senior class is really starting to come together.” She reflected that, “Everyone has a little different point of view on COVID19 but we all respect each other’s situation.”
Morris also attends the monthly meetings of the CUSD Governing Board, where she represents the voice of all 3,000 students in the district and gives updates from all four school sites. Board members often seek input from Morris to get a student perspective. Her responses are always thoughtful and candid. “Attending those meetings has been extremely eye-opening. I had no idea. I feel like listening to the Board discussion, hearing the public comments, and even the protests, has exposed me to a lot that could help me in a future career.“
School culture has a certain traditional rhythm that never really changes from year to year. Or decade to decade for that matter. Until this year, when many of the experiences we take for granted were disrupted. Campus was closed, class was online, events were canceled. It would be easy to complain of the lost experiences and dwell on how unfair it all is. But Kelli Morris is doing none of that. Her bubbly enthusiasm for CHS and her fellow Islanders is contagious. She has embraced her leadership role and is working hard to make the most of the school year - finding new and creative ways to continue those old traditions. They say character is tested in adversity. Morris has aced the test.