Student Leadership sponsors address this question: Will school dances happen this year?


Photo by Visual Image Photography

Taken at last year’s Sept. 21, 2019, homecoming dance, which hosted more than 1,000 students, the photo captures an annual student body event sponsored by Student Leadership at the school each fall. This year, though, the pandemic has put the possibility of large social gatherings like these into question. Cynthia Henrichs, co-sponsor of Student Leadership, said, “We are committed to make things happen, but some things are out of our control.”

Rylan Foster, Staff Reporter

Will there be any school dances this year during the COVID-19 pandemic is a question on many students’ minds. 

For those, such as the Student Leadership advisers, who help plan the dances, they’re asking the following question: Can the school offer fun Student Leadership-sponsored activities, like dances, while keeping students and staff safe? 

“We want to make as many memories as possible,” said Cynthia Henrichs, Social Studies teacher and co-sponsor of Student Leadership, who added she finds dances and other activities to be key for a meaningful high school experience.

But members of Student Leadership are struggling to make some of these traditional activities come to fruition while being mindful of the pandemic and the safety regulations that come with it. 

Social Studies teacher, AVID teacher and Co-sponsor of Student Leadership, Patrick Gaughan, shared similar thoughts to those of Henrichs.

“Student Leadership wants to do everything in our power to ensure that students have an opportunity to participate in dances, traditions and events that connect them to their peers and the school community,” Gaughan said. 

School staff involved in the planning process of these events said if the dances are held some time this year, they would be outside during the spring, and if that is not possible, summer is a second option to make students feel less nervous and allow for social-distancing. The school staff is currently looking for a large outdoor space at MHS.

“As of right now, this would occur in either February or March but is dependent upon COVID rates and COVID safety protocols from the state,” Gaughan said. “Some ideas that we are looking into would be to have an outdoor dance with multiple stages to allow for social-distancing.” 

Plans will depend on the number of COVID-19 cases reported, which will inform all Illinois and/or Lake County districts if schools are allowed to have dances during the pandemic, officials said.

Any dances or events that are created “will have proper social-distancing, adequate and extensive planning and safety guidelines implemented to ensure that all students are safe,” Gaughan said.

Michael Pope, Assistant Principal of Student Services, said making sure these dances are held responsibly while meeting the standards of the guidelines in place by the state of Illinois are key focuses.

“I like to believe that our students understand how serious this is and will meet the guidelines and expectations [if or when these events are held],” Pope said.

If and when events are held, Pope explained students who want to come to these events would have to act responsibly by following the school and state rules.  

We absolutely want to offer every opportunity possible to our students as long as it can be done responsibly,” Pope said. “If there is a chance to have events, we will do our best to have them.” 

Current COVID-19 safety regulations that must be considered include 6-feet of distancing, wearing masks in public, washing hands frequently and not attending an event if one is experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms.

When asked about how he felt regarding hosting these dances this year given all the limitations, Gaughan replied with the following: “In this area, my opinion does not matter. We will continue to follow what scientific research says is safe to do and work within those confines to provide the most enjoyable experience possible.”

Both students and staff members, including Gaughan, Pope and Henrichs, expressed a desire to help students enjoy their time at MHS even during the pandemic.  

“Memories can be made even if they look different,” Henrichs said. 

Gaughan acknowledged the isolating effects of the pandemic that Student-Leadership activities could help reduce.

“I know that remote learning and social-distancing can feel isolating,” he said. “Just know that there are so many students and adults at MHS who are working tirelessly to make sure you have a meaningful high school experience.”

Therefore, Student Leadership has some plans underway to engage the student body in school-sponsored activities. 

“We are looking at a scavenger hunt where students need to dress up and visit parts of Mundelein to post on Instagram,” Gaughan said. 

While Student Leadership continues to work on plans for student body activities during a pandemic that also has led the state government to limit the number of people at any social gatherings, students can help by sharing ideas with Student Leadership, Gaughan added.

“Student Leadership is a democratically elected organization that empowers student representatives to speak and encourage ideas that are in the best interest of all students,” said Gaughan, who also added, “At the same time, you don’t have to be a member of Student Leadership to share your ideas. We want to hear from students directly.”

If students have ideas they want to share with Student Leadership, they can submit suggestions through the “MHS Student Leadership Online Suggestion Box” by clicking this link.