In the time following the pandemic, Grade 12 students at Nepean High School have been working to make the most of their final year of high school. COVID-19 has erased most of the classic high school experience for the class of 2023, but this year’s seniors have now been given a chance for normalcy. For Student Council co-presidents Hattie Mccullough and Ella Durno, this comes with a newfound responsibility of rebuilding a school’s community as we emerge from the depths of the pandemic. Having spent much of the past two years online in altered schedules, most of Ontario’s schools, such as Nepean, have experienced a lost sense of school community and spirit. Ella added onto this, stating that, “These past few years we haven’t had any normal high school experiences. We want to bring a lot of those back as best as we can, and work on having more of a community feeling in the school, bringing people together. We kind of lost that for a few years since we weren’t allowed to have assemblies, pep rallies, or dances”. Without having experienced much of high school themselves, Nepean’s Student Council have had their work cut out for them as they work to rebuild what was lost in the pandemic. Some ways they are choosing to resolve this issue include increasing social media presences and organizing opportunities for student involvement.
As co-presidents, Hattie and Ella are responsible for delegating tasks and acting as liaisons between the countless departments, committees, and clubs of Nepean High School. Although the school offers a wide variety of opportunities and activities for students to partake in, not many are aware of how to get involved. The pair knew that fixing this issue would involve an active social media presence above all else. As members of the student body themselves, Ella and Hattie know that the majority of students pay attention to social media, maybe even more than to posters and physical signs in hallways. This highlights the importance of having a Council made up of students, as they are able to contribute insight that might not occur to many staff members. Clubs like the Diverse Student Union (DSU), and Nepean’s Athletics Department both have strong Instagram presences entirely run by students, which allows them to easily advertise events. These new platforms have become a greater focus and are allowing for students to be easily kept in the loop about going-ons at Nepean.
Another major goal for the duo is to bring back the school’s community spirit. When schools in Ontario converted to online education in March 2020, participation and club involvement became obsolete. Hattie reflected on the situation, stating that, “With COVID and life moving on, our school spirit has gone significantly down; we’re seeing way less participation than in past years”. Hattie and Ella are looking to push this issue by preparing for a year filled with new student activities such as pep rallies, coffee houses, dances, and spirit weeks. Most significantly, they are working towards a school wide mental health awareness assembly, another issue that's importance was brought to light by the pandemic.
Hattie and Ella have already proven themselves to be strong voices for Nepean’s students, and will continue to work on issues such as mental health, and community involvement as the school year progresses. Nepean is looking towards a great year with the pair as advocates for students across all grades.