The Peer Leaders Program has long been a critical component of Belmont Hill’s mission to educate its students. The Junior and Senior Peer Leaders have frequently met with younger students in events, discussions, and fish bowls that can be important and informative in their development into the future generation. However, the pandemic has hit the Peer Leaders hard as many past programs which would have involved large group gatherings can no longer happen because of the risk of viral spread. Timmy McCormack ’21, one of the Head Peer Leaders, noted that “we were still able to organize some in-person, outdoor events with Forms I, II, & III throughout the year, but workshops like Form III & V fishbowl had to be moved to a virtual format.” This shift to virtual events has been rough, especially with it being more difficult to engage students in the fish bowls; however, the Peer Leaders have handled it well by making the best of the circumstances.
Although an outsider may think running an event virtually seems pretty simple, especially with popular applications like Zoom and email, Timmy remembers that “the task of collecting all of the parents’ emails, using a Google form to collect fishbowl questions, and making sure no technical difficulties occurred was laborious.” Organizationally, making sure the correct information is disseminated through email was difficult as parents and students could easily fall through the cracks.
But in the end, the Peer Leaders arguably gained more than they lost with the increased adaptability being incorporated into all of its programs. Timmy thinks that “that this year’s group of Peer Leaders will be able to carry that mentality of ‘adaptation’ with them for their future leadership positions.” The gains in experience navigating a pandemic situation can be carried on by the Peer Leaders for a long time. The Peer Leaders next school year will hopefully not have to follow the same restrictions, and the group will also be expanded by a new set of applicants this month.