By Catherine Pandori, Director of Student Leadership & Activities
The qualities that make an effective student leader, such as being a good listener and communicator, encouraging others, and being positive have long been understood. But in these times of distance learning and shelter-in-place, traditional student leadership has had to adapt and change.
Just a few days before Notre Dame transitioned to a Flexible Learning Plan, students stood arm-in-arm in Julie Billiart Hall singing the alma mater at the conclusion of Spirit Week. A true leadership masterpiece, Spirit Week is organized and implemented by ASB student leaders and brings the community together to celebrate sisterhood with games, songs, dances and crazy costumes, all wrapped in joy and laughter. “Spirit Week brings our school together in a fun and joyful way. It was nice to experience that as a community before having to social distance ourselves. It was a reminder of how strong and hopeful ND students and faculty are, and how we will get through this time together,” shared Neha Jain ‘20, ASB school president.
As students, faculty and staff left campus and, over the following weeks, realized they could not return this school year, student leaders faced unprecedented challenges. Their resilience and ingenuity has not let Spirit Week be the last time the school had fun together. With online dance parties, club and leadership meetings, and an upcoming Big/Little Sister get-together Notre Dame’s leaders are working hard to keep all of us connected.
“We saw how much fun both students and faculty had at our first virtual mixer, our Disco Dance Party, and we knew we would have to continue to bring our community together. These virtual get-togethers allow us to keep in touch in fun ways,” shared Neha. This week ASB School Council will host its second online dance party with a beach theme.
“Although we’ve never been farther apart, it is still so important to feel like we’re together, one family with our arms linked singing the Alma Mater loud and proud,” shared Maddie Wong ‘21, newly elected ASB school council president for 2020-2021. “This is a tough time, but we must keep pushing, continuing to embody Notre Dame’s hallmarks and its vibe of sisterhood through whatever means possible.”
Student leaders have found new ways to communicate with each other and with their classmates. And their enthusiasm, positivity and encouragement has not waivered. Even the way they campaigned for leadership positions for the next school year required new ways to communicate.
“Every single time I’ve campaigned for ASB, the in-person contact has been critical in connecting with our student body, but this year our student leaders have had to revamp and find innovative new ways to showcase their ideas,” said Maddie. “With everything that our world is going through, it needs adaptable and flexible leaders.”
Students pivoted from traditional campaign posters to extremely creative campaign vidoes (such as this one created by Kimberly ’23) and recorded their speeches as voting was moved online. Notre Dame had an impressive voter turnout with 74% of students voting in the ASB School Council Elections and as high as 81% in the ASB Class Council Elections.
“With the current unprecedented situation our world is struggling to deal with, we have no idea what is in store for our next school year,” said Maddie. “As student leaders, we must be prepared for anything and everything to ensure that our student body will still have an enjoyable school year no matter the circumstances. We will work on creating new traditions and adapting Notre Dame favorites, but we will not let this obstacle keep us from having a memorable year!”
Yes, student leadership has had to evolve and change in this unprecedented time but one thing remains certain. Notre Dame’s student leaders will continue to develop new skills and innovative ways to keep the spirit of sisterhood alive and well.