NDP’s hardworking student leaders— club leaders, house leaders, etc.— feel the stress and sting of the ever-shifting COVID-19 climate more than usual.

As the school year continues, NDP is slowly learning to adapt to life around COVID-19; staff is working hard to make sure everything stays clean and sanitary while maintaining the quality of life and schooling that came before the pandemic. The staff isn’t the only group working on this, though. Not by a long shot. NDP’s student leaders are also hard at work to try and make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, and the pressure they face is real.

The NDP Robotics logo overlooking the courtyard during the early morning, Tuesday, October 20, 2020. Staff photo/Kendall Blair

Ryleigh Morgan, senior leader of the NDP robotics team and president of the coding club, is a very strong-headed, adaptable leader. She’s been a devoted member of robotics since her freshman year and was there at the founding of the coding club during sophomore year. She’s been trying her hardest to put the pedal to the metal and start everything up, COVID-19 and senior itself have proven to be more stressful than previously imagined. “It sucks right now,” said Morgan. 

According to her, last year’s robotics season was cut short— competition after competition was cancelled due to COVID-19, and robotics is still finding a way to keep everyone busy. “We want to get the kids involved, but we don’t have much to do… it’s definitely not as nice. We’re very hands-on,” Morgan said. To counter this, robotics has been planning on their new project: “UnLIMBited,” a project to work on prosthetic limbs for children who need them. According to Morgan, the plans are to use the robotics club’s 3-D printer, along with the many tools robotics already has to accomplish it. This project is only an idea the robotics club is dwelling on, though— as of now, it’s speculation, but a hopeful future for them nonetheless.

However, hands-on clubs like robotics are not the only ones being affected by the stresses of the new schedule. Bridge club, a club focused on learning about new cultures within NDP and run by Vicky Tang, has also been suffering with COVID-19 complications. “…it is much more difficult to communicate with people. I have to give up the plans that myself and other club leaders have originally made to try something new.” 

Tang stated that, before COVID-19, Bridge club was supposed to even have its own replica United Nations meeting discussing current topics. She goes on to say that, with the upcoming difficulties due to senior year, COVID-19, and general club leadership in this uncertain climate, “My leadership role makes me busier and requires me to spend more time on both the schoolwork and club activities. I would say I am more stressed than I used to be, and I need to balance the time I spend on different subjects.”

Club leaders are struggling. Planning engaging events is really difficult when there’s a strict set of social distancing rules to follow, but without those, clubs aren’t attractive or appealing to the majority of students. Having to come up with ways to please active members, attract new members, and still try to keep your final grades up is no small feat. It’s stressful. It’s so much, and it takes a toll on students.

While clubs and club leaders are suffering under the intense pressure that the sudden school rush has given them, though, one student-led group seems to be getting hit the hardest: the House system. The house system is a difficult thing to run; originally, house meetings were less frequent and more schoolwide. COVID-19 has had to put a stop to this, though, and all of the sudden, house leaders were expected to arrange house activities four times a week by themselves. 

A House Saint Michael meeting on Tuesday, October 2020 where students made custom prayer cards. Staff Photo/Kendall Blair

Megan Marshall, the current senior leader of House St. Patrick, is one of the victims of this sudden change. “The new schedule change because of COVID has made my house responsibilities increase and add to the stress of leading a successful family and encouraging bonding amongst those under my leadership,” Marshall told us. She further explained that leading house was something she was more than willing to do, despite the workload. Once a week was good. It gave time for planning and let her focus on other studies as well. However, four times a week was a sudden smack in the face. “Last year I led a family about once a week and had more assistance from others. However, this year, a bigger amount of responsibility is expected of me and I have to lead in houses daily,” she said. 

“I always have houses on my mind. I think about it constantly because it is stressful and it is crucial that I am always at my best when leading. I can’t afford to have a bad day because I have people constantly depending on me.” Marshall further explained that, while leading house proved to be a good thing in terms of being able to strengthen her leadership skills and working hard and has overall been a good experience that she’s happy she’s been able to have, but the stress is more than just a lot.

NDP is naturally a difficult school to get into and, arguably even more difficult, maintain good grades in. Students have a higher standard of work; we do more credits with more assignments and more homework on top of more classes, and with that, we even have service hours due. We’re required to submit college applications in senior year and we have our ACTs and SATs to take, especially in the later years. This all adds up, but the stress is even more apparent to those in leadership positions. They have people to please, schedules to organize, events to handle, and so much more on a chaotic, tight schedule within the wake of COVID-19 and the entire fall 2020 semester in general. It all adds up and becomes one large beast that they’re trying their hardest to tame for the sake of themselves, but more importantly, their fellow students. They’re working hard, and it’s all for us.