After being in distance and hybrid learning models since November, the Esko High School student council wanted to welcome students back into the building for full time, in-person learning with "COVID Relief Week."

Esko junior and student council member Tenley Stewart said the council has spent most of this school year trying to find safe ways to bring students together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we found out we were coming back full time we thought this was the perfect opportunity," she said.

When students in grades 7-12 returned to the building Tuesday, March 9, they were greeted with a full week of activities, including a medallion hunt, dress-up days, games and an ice cream social.

There have been slight adjustments made to the more interactive activities in order to make them safe during the pandemic, Stewart said.

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Audrey Menor analyzes how many masks may be in the guessing jar. Each day, the jar is filled with new items for students to try and count. (Photo by Tenley Stewart)
Audrey Menor analyzes how many masks may be in the guessing jar. Each day, the jar is filled with new items for students to try and count. (Photo by Tenley Stewart)

She shared that the council members delivered ice cream to individual classrooms Tuesday to prevent students from all gathering in one place, and that the medallion hunt took place throughout the school day — ending when a student deciphered the council's riddle Tuesday afternoon and found the medallion.

“The vibe in the building has been fantastic," high school Principal Greg Hexum said.

Student council adviser and high school teacher Deb DeArmond said they've seen more participation from the student body for COVID Relief Week than they have for any spirit week over the past couple years.

Tuesday was "Blue and Gold Day," where students were encouraged to wear school colors. DeArmond guessed that 80% of the students participated.

Joey Antonutti shows his school spirit by dressing up for "Jersey Day." (Photo by Tenley Stewart)
Joey Antonutti shows his school spirit by dressing up for "Jersey Day." (Photo by Tenley Stewart)

“This has been the best turnout for sure," Esko junior and student council member Audrey Menor said regarding student participation in past spirit weeks.

At the end of the week, the grade with the most spirit is rewarded with a pizza lunch, and the person from each grade voted "best dressed" throughout the week will win a gift card.

“It’s just really good to be back," Stewart said, explaining that she hasn't seen some of her classmates in person for about a year.

Decorations cover the Esko High School lobby space in honor of COVID Relief Week. (Photo by Tenley Stewart)
Decorations cover the Esko High School lobby space in honor of COVID Relief Week. (Photo by Tenley Stewart)


Menor said she had almost forgotten how to interact with people face-to-face.

“It’s really awesome to see everybody back in the building," she said.

Funding for the week's events and prizes has come from the student activities fund, as well as local sponsors.

“It’s really been great," DeArmond said. “I’m really proud of our student council.”