Banneker SGA & PTO work together to raise spirits

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On October 17, the Banneker Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) hosted a Spirit Drive-by.  Students and their parents drove to the school to pick up a bag filled with Banneker goods.

This was the first time in school year 20-21 Banneker had its students on the campus, and this was the first in-person event Banneker has hosted since DCPS went into virtual learning due to the pandemic.  The event was socially distant and a hit for participants.  

As cars pulled up to the front of the school, the students were greeted by masked fellow classmates, staff and parents.  Students remained in their cars while members of the Student Government Association (SGA) and the PTO handed them their ‘swag bags’. 

After being isolated and trapped in the confinements of their houses, the PTO felt it was necessary to host an event like this.

“I think the challenge is the socialization or lack-there-of,” says PTO member Deborah Berry.  “So that’s why this is a great way for them to socialize safely and feel like they are a part of a community and apart of Banneker.”

“We know students are a little bored and frustrated with being stuck in the house, so we wanted to do an event to raise their spirits,” says John Settles, the president of Banneker’s PTO.

As a father to two high school students, Settles says the adjustment has not been easy. “It’s been day by day. We have to keep reassuring them that while we understand it’s frustrating for them and they would love to be able to see their friends, that safety is a priority. But we try to make allowances for them to have some fun.”  

While parents have been concerned with social distance learning, parents of seniors have a significant problem.  “As a parent I was worried about that socialization piece.  Senior year is such a milestone year and you’re accustomed to doing so many celebratory events for that milestone year,” says parent and member of the PTO Jacqueline Anderson. 

The struggles are not just limited to parents.  “It hasn’t been easy, I’ll be really transparent about that,” says Principal Berger.  “It’s difficult managing people virtually, but I think we are slowly getting to understand more of what the responsibilities are and how to do things differently.”  

The pandemic will not stop Banneker from trying to engage in more socially distant activities.   “We can expect a few more events.  We’re looking to continue to partner with the SGA and find other ways to have some events where you all can be celebrated and let off some steam,” says Settles. “We’re also trying to come up with something for the freshmen who have not been able to meet each other and form a community and build relationships.”