How Covid has Impacted A Yearly Tradition

Mengting Chang

Staff Writer

 As the pervasive coronavirus spreads its way to every nook and cranny of our lives, it has also consumed the largely celebrated tradition of Spirit Week—Or has it? Though the initial time restraint set some difficulties for high quality performances, an extension was graciously given and Spirit Week was postponed until 11/16-11/20. There are sprinkles of miracles at work as our storybook themes work their magic to bring us a truly memorable year.

The Topsy Turvy of Alice, 

The Infamy of shrek, 

Riding Hood’s sinister lattice

And the Peter Pan project

As covid makes its mark, this dire new situation gives rise to this new group of unlikely participants: gamers, digital artists, and musicians.  

     As Andrew Lee, a background musician for the Senior Spirit Week puts it,  “[This year’s spirit week] gives more opportunity for new ideas compared to other spirit weeks because usually we always want to do the usual stuff, but then this year, with the pandemic going on, we have more opportunities to include other stuff like animation and original background music.”

     Sophomore skit animator, Aarush Agte (10) comments, “It’s nice to be able to contribute to this in a way that suits my skill set. I’m not really into the dancing or scriptwriting, but this is something I like doing.”

     However, the skits are not the only part of Spirit Week that has received a complete makeover. In an act of ingenuity, class leaders and the ASB executive team decided on having a Minecraft set. Not only has this never been heard of, it invites many long-time Minecraft veterans to become involved in Spirit Week. 

     One Minecrafter in particular, James Liu (11) responded, “Usually, video games don’t really coincide with school activities and so I was kind of surprised when I found out that we were doing the set over Minecraft.” 

     Unfortunately, though we have newfound skill-diversity in Spirit Week participants, there are still many challenges members face due to online interactions. 

     Vidhi Chellani (10), the Bollywood Choreographer for the Sophomore Spirit Week states, “We teach on zoom, obviously not in person to be safe, and zoom issues like lagging, and syncing on the music… is one of the biggest obstacles that we’ve faced”. 

     Alana Weinstein (9), Unity Choreographer for the Freshmen spirit week adds, “When you teach a dance and you don’t really get to feel the energy from everybody else, it’s a lot less interesting and I think people don’t really get the same intent behind it that I’m trying to get across. And it’s also a little bit more difficult to see if people have the dance [down] or not because I see them on a much smaller screen and I can’t hear them if they want to do it again”.

     In response to these recent challenges, Spirit Week leaders have found ways to overcome these hurdles through their own creativity. Alana Weinstein continues, “What I do is I usually ask a yes or no question and I do either a thumbs up or a thumbs down cause I found that a couple of other choreographers do the same thing and that usually works pretty well as long as I can see their hand.” 

     Unfortunately, network latency is not the only challenge for spirit week participants. As the emerging deadline creeps closer and closer, stress and frustration has overtaken the minds of many. 

     “We had a hard deadline, and all of set worked really hard just to meet that deadline. We had a lot of stuff to do and we sacrificed a lot of sleep, especially for me, some of the quality of my homework just to meet that deadline so we could push out set,” laments junior James Liu (11).     

     Andrew Lee (12) adds, “… With the time crunch that we’re given it’s really detrimental to get used to the new situation and try to create a good spirit week especially considering that we’re seniors”.

     Luckily, for many hardworking participants, their grievances were heard and answered. In an Elect meeting, it was discussed and decided that Spirit Week would be postponed until the week of 11/16-11/20.  

     When the news was received, Jennifer Kim (11), and Amber Schomoyer (12), gave emphatic, but understandable reactions. 

     “I’m not kidding, when I got the message, I literally teared up,” Kim says, “For me, it was good news. Trying to meet the original deadline was really stressful and I wasn’t able to time manage that well. Being able to have an extra month now, it’s allowing us to go back over where we sort of went wrong with the original deadline, so we’re trying to be more proactive and keeping up with each other, and also our own personal lives and schoolwork”. 

     Amber Schomoyer, the Senior Spirit Week Animator, adds, “Hallelujah. I was walking the dog at work, and I felt my phone notification go off and I picked it up and I was like ‘is somebody quitting on Spirit Week because of the timeline’ and I picked it up and it was like “hey guys, we got an extension”, and I sighed in relief and I turned to the dog and I was like ‘oh my gosh, Porter, you’re never gonna believe what happened’. I’m so grateful we have a student council that’s so understanding and flexible. You know, I think we could’ve gotten it done by October 21st, but… our mental health would’ve struggled. I think people were just so busy freaking out over how they’re gonna manage college apps AND the project in such a short amount of time, so I think giving this extension would kinda help everybody get things under control”.

     On a lighter note, the opinions for this extension was positive, with hopes that they are now able to produce their best quality work. 

     “I had a very busy weekend so it gave me a little more time to finalize my drawings so I’m personally happy about [the extension].” says Roman Young (9). 

     Another artist, Kaitlyn Shi (12), inputs, “I think [progress] has been good so far, especially now that the deadline has been extended. Because it wasn’t before and it felt like everyone was rushing and that we might even not have a full [animation] finished and it would have to be short. But i think that now we’re going at a good pace and we could actually make something that is like a completed project, a completed product.”

     Through and through, many challenges were thrown at the spirit week participants, but they have proven that they can handle the hardships of a virtual spirit week. With that said, morale is high amongst the classes, and everyone is hopeful for the final results. 

     “I’m excited to see what the whole storyboard looks like, Roman says, I’m excited to see everything spirit week has to offer, and I want to see how it turns out despite covid.”

     In an unprecedented situation like this, Spirit Week members have done their best with the cards they’ve dealt to try to bring you a memorable week despite Covid. 

     Squid Nguyen (12), a skit animator, shares some final thoughts on the project, “I hope that people actually watch it, like sit through and just observe what we’ve been working hard to make throughout all our schoolwork and stuff because everyone is taking time out of their lives to do it. I just hope that people appreciate it.”

     Overall, it’s a statement in itself that despite the limitations of virtual schooling, we are still able to find creative ways to improvise, adapt, and overcome. With this new situation comes new ideas, and possibly more creative Spirit Weeks in the future, which is exciting to many, including Catherine Marzan (9), a freshmen musician. 

“I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future, and what they’re gonna do next year, and the year after that.” 

Line art for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, drawn by Amber Schomoyer (12)
Painting of the talking donkey from Shrek, painted by Jennifer Kim (11).

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