Every December, clubs and classes at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) organize activities and fundraisers to foster holiday spirit and give back to those in need. Due to the constraints of the pandemic, Student Council, Interact Club, Grassroots, and Leadership are finding new ways to bring the school and Island community together .
The Student Council, responsible for many initiatives around the school, has had to rethink many annual holiday traditions and make adjustments to others. Previous traditions have included decorating Windemere for Christmas and selling baked goods at “Christmas in Edgartown.” This year, council members are decorating the school cafeteria with lights and paper snowflakes, and coordinating a Holiday Spirit Week that encourages students to dress up in holiday hats, Hawaiian shirts, and holiday pajamas over Zoom.
These holiday activities provide students with an outlet to connect with peers and a way to create memories. Student Council president and senior Leo Neville feels that the Student Council’s mission this holiday season is to raise school spirit and to encourage collaboration and unity. “Everything has been uniquely adjusted for this year. It has been very difficult to spread the word and scheduling events has been almost impossible,” he said.
Student Council members in the junior class produced a new activity for their class this year called “Secret Snowman,” a take on the holiday tradition of Secret Santa, in which students are secretly matched with a peer and must get a small gift for them to be dropped off at their house before Christmas. Junior class president Anabelle Biggs said,“This activity will give students the feeling that they’re still connected with their classmates, and [that connection] leaves room for hope that we’re going to get back to normal.”
The Interact Club has also organized a clothing and toy drive. The clothing donations will benefit Clothes To Go, a program that provides clothing to Island residents in need, and the toy donations will benefit Toys for Tots.
Interact Club secretary Isabella Clarke said, “The clothing drive we did last year was a major success so we wanted to do it again, because so many kids and families are in need of clothing during these troubling times. I volunteer at Clothes to Go, and last time I was there I was told that they really need winter clothes, so I think the drive will be very helpful for that program,” she said.
The Grassroots Club is also helping out the community by organizing a food and toiletry drive to benefit the Island Food Pantry. They created the drive in place of their annual City-Reach trip to Boston in December, a trip that offers students the opportunity to help feed the homeless and provide them with daily necessities such as shampoo and socks.
The MVRHS leadership class was able to continue their tradition of creating Christmas cards and painting paperweights for elderly residents at Windemere. For this project, students collaborated with a Martha’s Vineyard Community Services outreach program that works with at-risk and homebound seniors. Students will deliver 69 handmade cards and 13 painted paperweights.
Dr. Natalie Munn has been teaching the leadership course for three years. She said, “I think [the cards and paperweights] are a really nice treat for the elderly people, since they’re a group that isn’t getting a lot of holiday gifts, and just to have a card is appreciated.”