As vaccines roll out and the world slowly begins to reopen, Cleveland is following suit with their chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) joining in the action.
On Sunday, April 25 volunteers from NHS gathered at Cleveland for an afternoon of service around the school building. NHS members could be spotted weeding, picking up trash, or creating chalk art and posters to welcome students back to the building as the second week of in-person hybrid learning begins.
Yesterday marked the first in-person NHS event since schools closed last Spring. NHS co-President Harper Hamilton said, “It felt good to be here because people are just so excited to see each other and be around this little building once again.”
Over the past year of Covid-organizing, Cleveland’s NHS chapter has been able to connect virtually: Zoom events of letter writing for sick community members and senior citizens, group Zoom cooking before NHS members individually distributed the food they made through PDX Free Fridge, encouraging NHS members to get involved in their neighborhoods and communities.
NHS co-President Uma Frost-Hausman described one of the positive impacts of organizing virtually. “It’s been really nice to have the teachers involved too, which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t on Zoom.”
While NHS members agree that these events were wonderful, there was certainly something missing.
Senior NHS member Lydia Downs said, “I would say what was missing kind of for the past couple of months is actual social interaction, because we have Zooms with NHS but it’s not the same as seeing people in person, and you can really see the impact of your service.”
She added, “Just being able to converse with people, and talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives, that’s so important, the social aspect of service.”
Downs was not alone in craving the social aspect that has been nonexistent not only from the extracurricular scene, but also from the hybrid classes that began at Cleveland last week.
“It was really nice to talk to people because I don’t have a ton of people in my classes since they’re just such small groups. It’s kind of hard to talk in class, you’re just kind of doing work, and so this was nice to just socialize and interact with people I haven’t seen in over a year,” said senior NHS member Lilly Mearsheimer.
Mearsheimer talked about how there is more of a sense of community returning to this NHS event, as NHS members have known each other for several years, while in-person classes can have less of a sense of community.
As the sun beat down over Cleveland on a day which had previously predicted rain, NHS members gathered in the front and back of the school with stacks of paper to make posters to welcome students back to their second week. Chalk art with motivational phrases lines the front steps, and more doodles welcome freshmen at the entrance in the back. Other NHS members were pulling weeds and picking up trash.
“It’s a really nice experience today. It’s sunny out, we’re able to make posters, and spend time together,” said senior NHS member Ryleigh Macdonald.
NHS looks forward to another in-person service event planned for the end of May, and the feeling of connection for students upon being back can be continued. For some seniors, like Jude Smith, who did not return to hybrid learning, the in-person events are refreshing.
“I thought it was really nice because I got to see the school again, which it was kind of weird being back because I’m not going back to classes in person, and it’s really nice seeing everyone. It’s been so long, so I really enjoyed it.”
The sunny Sunday seemed to be a success, and as the NHS members walked off campus for the evening, they left a bright trail of chalk, posters, and a spruced up campus behind them. Senior NHS member Raina Freeman sums up the event perfectly.
“Actually seeing what we can do together in person and how positive the school’s feeling, that was really – I think it was one of the best parts of being back, and now all the students tomorrow can see all the work we did.”