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Student Body Presidents Face Unprecedented Challenge of Leading During a Pandemic

  • Post category:General News
  • Post last modified:September 16, 2020

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Will Rahaniotis was a freshman when he set a goal of running for Brighton High’s student body president. Little did he know in his senior year he would be leading his peers in the most unprecedented year in the school’s history.

“Since freshman year, I imagined myself running, and doing my skit in front of my school [as part of my campaign],” said Rahaniotis. In March of 2020, “all of a sudden it was just gone,” he said. The campaign moved completely online, and Rahaniotis won knowing his tenure would be spent not only leading students to success, but also helping them stay physically safe and healthy.

“Chances are we are the only student government leaders that will have to do it this way,” Rahaniotis said.

Max Lepore, student body president at Hillcrest High School, said so far students are cooperating with Canyons District guidelines (which are in line with state health directives) to physically distance while at school and to wear face coverings.

“I think the biggest thing is just to kind of lead by example because as student government leaders…if we aren’t doing it properly…then it’s just really setting a bad example to the school,” said Lepore. He said safeguarding students’ mental health is also important. He wants students who have chosen to learn at home this year to feel connected and included.

“For our assemblies, we’ve been livestreaming it to people’s homeroom classes, and we’ve also made that livestream available on YouTube for students who are learning at home,” said Lepore. “We’re still finding ways to include those online students.”

With school now well underway, Rahaniotis says students have readily adopted new routines. “We are following all the state guidelines, we are restricting the number of students at events, no assemblies,” he said noting that even though his senior year looks different than imagined, keeping in-person learning available by maintaining proper safety protocols will pay off. “If I get to see my friends for six hours a day but I lose some of the fun activities, to me that’s worth it.”

Parker Pogue, student body president at Corner Canyon High School, said he could never have imagined how much taking on this role in 2020 would teach him about being an example and an advocate for students.

“A lot of it is just pure leadership. Students have to push each other to wear their masks. It’s a community effort. We are all just kind of supporting each other…we all have to do our part,” Pogue said. “I think it’s kind of like a positive peer pressure.”

And these leaders are aware that their hard work and dedication to safety can help the larger community.

“Not only are you looking out for your student body, but you’re also looking out for people that your student body comes in contact with,” said Pogue. “It might not be you, but it might be the kid next to you…you never know, he or she might have high risk family members.”

The unique school year also offers student organizations the opportunity to get creative and reach out to students in more meaningful ways.

“It’s why I ran for this position, we love a challenge,” said Rahaniotis. “This really pushes our limits as members of student government, and encourages people to reach out and be friend to more people than we usually are and go out of our comfort zone even more.”

Canyons School District has implemented districtwide safety measures in accordance with guidelines from the Utah Department of Health to combat the spread of COVID-19. Learn more by reading our COVID-19 Action Plan.

Student Body Presidents Face Unprecedented Challenge of Leading During a Pandemic
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