BURLINGTON, Vermont — A Vermont Catholic high school student and two of her hometown friends are showing school spirit during mandatory school closings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sydney Adreon, 15, a freshman at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, and her friends, Jasmine, 15, and Kaitlyn Little, 16, a freshman and sophomore, respectively, at Vergennes Union High School, have been quarantining together and are hoping to create unity across Vermont and beyond.
“We thought, what about a Spirit Week? Every school does it, and it’s fun,” Sydney said. “We are all high school students and are going through ‘distance learning’ and lack of sports and daily interactions with friends and family. We have noticed how much the state needs some light in this darkness.”
They created a statewide/national “quarantine/distance learning” Spirit Week from March 30 to April 3.
“We hope to see people in Zoom classes and posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter … using #vtwegotthis,” Sydney told Vermont Catholic, the Burlington Diocese’s magazine, in an interview ahead of the week. “We want to see young and old participate, not just students and parents. It’s time we use social media as the positive force/morale booster it should be.”
Vermonters, she added, “are known for our sense of community and a friendly, helpful attitude.”
Sydney has participated in a fall and a winter Spirit Week at Rice Memorial and said they enhance the school community and “make everybody think about how much they love their school and how much they love each other.”
Christy Bahrenburg, director of advancement and communications, likened the Rice community to a family. “We are proud of our 100-plus-year legacy and the many Rice traditions that build school spirit across generations of Rice alumni,” she said, noting that student council members are trying to come up with creative ways to show Rice spirit during quarantine.
“As a student at Rice, I feel well prepared and hope to spread the word and unity across the state,” Sydney said. “We have noticed that people are feeling cut off and have no sense of community. Our goal is to re-establish the community and get a post from every county in the state.”
She hopes the virtual Spirit Week will spreads throughout the country too.
Each day had a different theme:
— Monday: School Spirit — Wear the colors of your high school, middle school, elementary school or college.
— Tuesday: Favorite Holiday — Dress for the holidays you miss or the ones you love the most.
— Wednesday: Sports/Hobby day — Dress like your favorite player or as a fisherman, make this one your own and different.
— Thursday: Throw Back Thursday — Wear your ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s attire.
— Friday: Formal Friday — Do your makeup and do your hair, get dressed up. Feel good about yourself in something you love.
On Tuesday, March 31, Jasmine said virtual Spirit Week was going well, and she enjoyed seeing photos of people she now can’t see every day because of social distancing: “Seeing them doing something we created makes me happy.”
Her sister, Kaitlyn, was into the Tuesday spirit, wearing an “ugly” Christmas sweater, antlers, crazy socks and jingle earrings. “I’m an interesting sight,” she said with a laugh. “It makes me happy to see people smile.”
Urban is managing editor of Vermont Catholic, the official magazine of the Diocese of Burlington.