Clubs, student governments work to salvage events as Coronavirus closure hits one-month milestone

Last+year%27s+Battle+of+the+Bands+was+held+on+March+15%2C+2019.+This+year+the+event+is+in+jeopardy+due+to+COVID-19-caused+school+closures.

Blot photo by Alyssa Rasp

Last year's Battle of the Bands was held on March 15, 2019. This year the event is in jeopardy due to COVID-19-caused school closures.

The hallways of CHS buzzed on Wednesday, March 11, after students and staff received an email that the upcoming Friday would follow an early dismissal schedule in order for the staff to prepare for the possibility of a school closure. A day later, a follow-up email was sent, closing school for the day. That one day turned into an indefinite shutdown, as the COVID-19-caused closure now surpasses one month in length, with no reopening planned for the immediate future. 

Principal James Gleason began worrying about the continuation of school and the hosting of large events following the Cultural Communications festival on Mar. 6. These initial postponements were not the district’s choice, but rather what Gleason felt was safe for the CHS community.

“After the Cultural Communications festival, I think it became pretty evident that we needed to make some decisions about gatherings,” Gleason said. “It just didn’t seem to make sense to have that.”

One of the first events to be postponed due to the outbreak was the annual Fashion Show. Co-coordinator and senior Riley Rademacher of Manasquan said she and fellow coordinator, senior Abby Tellechea of Monmouth Beach, found out about the postponement a few days before the show, which was set for Mar. 13. The calendar was updated for the Fashion Show to be May 15, but Rademacher has little hope in returning to school by that date.

Senior Jillian Tracy of Belmar, co-coordinator of Battle of the Bands, was made aware of the event’s postponement around the same that Rademacher learned of the Fashion Show’s. She said the people involved were quickly notified of the change and cancellations were made as necessary.

“I think the biggest loss was with the judges, as some had cancelled other events or set aside time specifically to be present at Battle of the Bands,” Tracy said. 

The decision to put Spirit Week on hold, on the other hand, was finalized after schools were closed indefinitely and online schooling began. The Student Government Association (SGA) had discussed the likelihood of returning to school by the previously scheduled date and decided that chances were low.

“We saw that the entire situation was not clearing up soon, so we decided to postpone in order to prevent any unnecessary stress or preparation for a week that had the strong possibility of being cancelled,” said SGA President and senior Liam Jamolod of Howell. 

However, the SGA is reworking the popular week-long event into a virtual format. Senior and SGA Vice President Dane Tedder of Ocean said that students should expect further details and clarification soon. 

As for the annual SGA elections, an alternate plan is in place that would consist of an online interest meeting, a primary election (if needed), and pre-recorded speeches. 

“This is a tough situation without being in school because a big part of elections is reaching out face to face with treats and snacks,” Jamolod said. “It’s harder to approach people online simply because they may not listen or just choose to ignore.” 

The Drama Club’s spring show, scheduled for May 1, is another pending event. Senior and director of drama productions Jamie Nickerson of Tinton Falls said the council decided to postpone the show until further notice and will re-evaluate as the situation progresses. 

“Last time all of council talked we said that we are going to see when school reopens and go based off of that,” Nickerson said. “If we do have the show it will be at the school instead of at the JSAC, but it really depends on how much time we have.”

The senior class, among many other cancellations, also had to communicate with Battleground Country Club to move the date for prom. English teacher and Class of 2020 adviser Emily Crelin said that the decision to reschedule prom was made by herself, along with co-adviser Kathryn Diver and Gleason. Crelin said the venue was “nothing but helpful” in securing a new date for the event.

“We are currently planning prom for June 10th and are hoping for it to go off without a hitch,” she said. “The last few months of senior year are a rite of passage and the Class of 2020 deserves to have all of the big events.”

Gleason, along with others, is making decisions day-by-day, but is holding out as long as possible for events scheduled at the end of the year, in hopes that seniors will be able to experience these important milestones.

“When you take a look at color wars, prom, a senior picnic and graduation, I mean those are really important things that I think students deserve and parents deserve,” Gleason said. “So those are gonna be last-minute cancellations. We’re gonna try to do everything within our power to have those events take place. But also understanding that it might not happen.”