Senior Leadership: A Victim of the Virus

“Blame it on the virus.” Brother Guy Jelinek stated over and over again during my interview with him a couple of weeks ago. As coordinator of the Senior Leadership program, I wanted to get his stance and understand: why was the event unable to happen this year? As a student whose homeroom and lunch were often occupied by other commitments, I had looked forward to the opportunity for Senior Leadership being more accessible. Between a hybrid schedule, a greater understanding of technology, and more free time thanks to staying inside, it seemed to be the perfect storm for this type of program. However, I lacked a true understanding of what Senior Leadership was intended to be. A program that was intentionally special because it was only offered at one time for seniors, and would remain exclusively for the graduating class as such.

Brother Guy explained that “there is something special about the in-person opportunity. Students have the opportunity to ask questions at any point, and the first benefit for laughs.” Not to mention, this program wasn’t Brother Guy’s original design. It came from his work with Gallup Organization, located in Nebraska, and was intended to be largely student run. In fact, that was one of the struggles Senior Leadership faced – the hand-selected group of seniors were unable to congregate for meetings at the same time to discuss the best way to move forward. “I can’t place any blame on them, it’s just because of the virus. There wasn’t a good way to get things done when the Leadership group was split!” Brother Guy stated, then went on to say: “There was little discussion about utilizing a platform like Zoom, or having the seminars outside of school.” A main trifecta of reasons contributed to this decision: first and foremost, speakers at Senior Leadership do not receive compensation for their time; secondly, there had been attempts at multiple sessions before, but it was not as meaningful as when discussions occurred only once; finally, taking attendance for contact tracing purposes would be too difficult.

The group’s last ditch effort was the suggestion of using St. Daniel Hall during homeroom alone instead of homeroom and lunch as the location for the seminars. However, as Brother Guy pointed out to me, this would limit how much time the speakers had to share, eliminate the possibility of eating during the talks, and limit the amount of students who would be able to participate in the seminar. “I am hoping to return to doing usual activities and seminars next year,” Brother Guy made clear. “There’s just nothing to blame other than the virus.” While the senior class of 2021 is unfortunately missing out on such a wonderful Benet tradition, it is sure to carry on in the future.