School is back in session and student leader roles are changing


Credit: Matthew Gray

Student Leader Luis Sanchez is helping a student figure out what they need to do in order to succeed in band class. They are actively working on a new set of drills for Senior Night.

Matthew Gray, Guest Writer

On August 31, 2021, students went back to Loy Norrix for the first time in two years and with COVID-19 still present, student leaders and staff are still facing the twists and turns that the deadly virus is throwing their way.

Student leaders are upperclassmen who have taken up the role and responsibilities of an advisor to younger students.

These leaders are adopting new and difficult roles at LN for the 2021-2022 school year outside of the normal pep that is typically exhibited throughout past school years.

According to RISE UP – Student Leadership during COVID-19 lockdown, written by international motivational speaker Daniel Merza, “Incoming student leaders will be thrown by default into the deep end, with the pertinent need to lead from lockdown.”

Despite being connected on the internet, students and student leaders are still facing a major social disconnect.

“I feel like during online schooling student leaders were really disconnected,” said senior and band section leader Kevin Semelbauer. “With us in such a difficult time for everyone and especially new students, we’re kind of working double-time this year to make up for that and keep up everyone’s morale.”

In the absence of a school building and social interaction, many attempts were made to make students feel more comfortable and connected such as Social Emotional Learning sessions on Wednesdays know as SEL, small group interactions periodically throughout the online school year, organized events by student lead groups such as online spirit days and even the first COVID-19 precautioned “Prom on the Pavement.”

Student leaders and staff are putting in the extra time and effort to make the school environment more welcoming, less isolated, and less stressful than what online schooling had been for most students.

It has been a slow start, but even extracurriculars are making their prominent return.

“There wasn’t much of a halftime show or band last year,” said Semelbauer. “The student leaders, at least in the band, are working diligently to help kids get back into the school setting and getting back to work on music which has been really hard. Though, practicing PPE and COVID-19 precautions has made it really challenging to get everyone together and perform as well as we can.”

In spite of the limitations presented by COVID-19, performing groups are putting in extra work to prepare themselves for upcoming competitions, performances, and concerts such as the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association’s festival for the band and orchestra.

Pressed for time and with the flood of new students into sports and performing arts, teachers are enlisting the help of student leaders and upperclassmen to share their knowledge and help teach younger students in order to effectively get everyone back under stage lights and performing for the public.

“I’m doing my part to help out in whatever way I can,” said soccer team captain and Link Crew member Hank Perkins. “There is a lot more pressure to make sure everyone is doing okay, especially since teachers can’t be everywhere at once.”

Similar stresses are seen throughout the entire school with the rush of both new and returning students alike.

Student groups such as Link Crew, an organization of upperclassmen who help freshmen transition from middle school into the high school experience, are taking an upfront role in aiding students in their return to the school building and offering a helping hand in whatever way they can.

Whether it be navigating classes, schedule planning, extra curricular activities, events, or anything in between, Link Crew members are attentively there every step of the way.

“I feel like students wouldn’t be handling coming back to school well without student leaders there,” said Perkins. “Especially without Link Crew because without it freshman aren’t having as much help progressing into high school and getting oriented with everything. It has become more important for us to help them out more now than ever.”

It isn’t the first time that the Link Crew has faced getting students ready to come into high school, but certainly the first time that they’ve had to operate under the guidelines COVID-19 has placed upon them. Such as making sure that events are well managed and avoid close contact with other students/adults, operate using precautions like masks, social distancing, and proper sanitation, as well as properly managed group sizing.

The same can be said for the student executive board.

“There was a period of time last year where we faced the loss of many leaders,” student executive board member, National Honor Society president and Young Democrats leader Hollis Masterson said, “I went into a meeting during COVID last year and was the only one that showed up.”

A staggering absence of over 6 members out of the original 10+ of the executive board came from COVID-19, making room for more opportunities for younger students to step forward and take charge of their school experience, and the experience of others.

Masterson later added, “Despite there not being many, I feel like COVID has brought out many up-and-coming leaders and is going to keep doing so as long as people are willing to step up.”

Despite the mounting losses and hardships, student leaders are still persevering through the pandemic.

“Coming back to school would have been terrible without student leaders,” Masterson continued. “I think it was beneficial to leaders wanting to take control and add their own new ideas, in that sense the role of leaders really turned into the role of a guiding hand during these hard times.”