The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

ISU’s Fight for Homecoming

Students at homecoming this year. The event had to take place outdoors because of COVID restrictions (Courtesy of Mila Martin).

High schoolers had their first dance all together, since the start of the pandemic, on October 15, after a month and a half of discussion between the International Student Union (ISU) and the school administration. 

WIS started off the school year with the decision that dances would not be able to take place, because of the risk of COVID transmission. ISU, taking the student’s stance, advocated for a homecoming in front of the administration.

“It was quite the challenge to get homecoming at all,”  ISU Co-President Ander Petri-Hidalgo said. “So we talked to admin. We gave them a little presentation. We told them how much it meant to us: what restrictions we could have, what we could sacrifice in order to have [homecoming].”

After this, and once the school had adjusted to the fully in-person learning model, the Reopening Task Force gave the school permission to have outdoor dances. 

Story continues below advertisement

“It took us a little bit to shift our thinking about what that looks like,” Grade 9/10 Assistant Principal and ISU Faculty Advisor Allison Ewing said. “But ISU has been really great in advocating for what the students want, while also balancing it with making sure everyone is as safe as possible.”

It took a while to determine a date. The dance had to take place almost a month after it was originally scheduled because of other October school events, such as the Middle School Play and Sports Day. The delay was also because of the extra planning and negotiations that had to take place due to the COVID situation this year. 

“The student body and admin often have different priorities and different wants and needs, which is fine, [it’s] why ISU exists,” Petri-Hidalgo said. “We can talk to them and negotiate. So it’s natural that there are some disagreements.”

All of ISU was in favor of having homecoming, according to ISU Secretary Siddharth Kalra. They played a major role in the organization of the event, communicating with the administration and advocating for it to happen. 

“We all think that Homecoming is a great way to have students bond, in ways that aren’t just academic,” Kalra said.

ISU spent many weeks discussing what would and would not be possible in the COVID situation with Ewing. 

“There was a lot of compromise between ISU and [Ewing],” Kalra said. “But I think both parties definitely handled it respectfully and properly.”

The biggest challenge was the recommendations from various members of the school, like Head of School Suzanna Jemsby and the Reopening Task Force. 

“We had to first understand what the guidelines were for the dance, and then figure out what we can do within those guidelines,” Ewing said. “That was the big thing.”

Ewing said she was always in favor of helping the students get what they wanted, as long as it was in a safe way. Her biggest concern is keeping that balance. 

“My overarching concern, at the moment, is that balance of preserving the fun of the event, but also balancing it with ensuring that what we’re doing is not contributing to the possible spread of the virus,” she said.

To prevent as much virus transmission as possible, the dance was held outdoors, in front of the Carriage House. Masks wearing was enforced, especially on the dance floor, and students were not allowed to leave and return to the designated area for the dance after entrance.

The dance started and ended earlier than previous years in order to prevent injuries in the dark, such as tripping. The administration initially wanted the dance to start at 4:00, and ISU debated with them to have the dance pushed back as late as possible, and eventually compromised at having it from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.

“We all think that Homecoming is a great way to have students bond, in ways that aren’t just academic.”

Siddharth Kalra

ISU also had to spend a significant amount of their budget on hiring a lighting company to make this possible. This did not affect the pricing of the tickets, which were $20 each. The money from the tickets will be used to fund future events for students.

“It was more of a shift in our budget, and what was being used,” Petri-Hidalgo said. “The lighting costs more, but we then had to spend less on a couple things, and it ended up being fine.” 

ISU is working hard to advocate for them, according to Petri-Hidalgo. Kalra said that students are always welcome to have conversations with ISU.

“We’re planning ways to circulate the money into events that students want, and we’re doing our best to make this year as exciting as it can be for the student body, going forward,” Kalra said. “And I think Homecoming is a really good start.”

Though she still had some concerns right before the event, Ewing was optimistic about Homecoming.

“This will definitely be a memorable thing, where you get to tell your grandchildren how you had a dance in the time of COVID,” Ewing said.

By Naomi Breuer

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Naomi Breuer
Naomi Breuer, Editor-in-Chief
I am Editor-in-Chief of Dateline this year. As a junior last year, I was a Publications Editor and Middle School News Advisor. As a sophomore, I was WIS News Editor, and Arts Editor as a freshman. Other than Dateline, I enjoy baking, playing guitar, biking and participating in Model UN.

Comments (0)

All International Dateline Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *