St. Louis U. High announced Tuesday that the return of the full student body to campus, originally planned for Nov. 30, will be postponed. Instead, the school will return to a slightly altered hybrid schedule for the remainder of the first semester, following this week’s fully virtual schedule that was adopted to provide a buffer following the Thanksgiving week.
The decision came on the heels of a record-setting Monday, Nov. 30, when the seven day average for total COVID-19 hospitalizations in the St. Louis metropolitan reached its highest number. While cases have begun to plateau in recent days, the school administration ultimately felt that returning to hybrid would be the safest option, at least for the remainder of the holiday season.
"There are some people that have questioned whether we would go virtual for the rest of the semester. I can say that that wasn't a huge consideration,” said Principal Ian Gibbons, S.J. “The numbers are relatively stable, but they're just higher, much higher than we would like them to be, so the idea of pivoting to everyone who wants to be back—we can't quite do that. We certainly want our students to be able to be on campus, at least half of the time for now.
Staples of prior Youth and Government (YAG) conventions—the two-hour trek to Jefferson City, the tradition of brunch at the Kingdom City McDonalds, the memories at the hotel with over 600 Missouri students—were all undoable in this year’s virtual format. However, despite the strangest convention in the Missouri YMCA Youth and Government’s 72-year history, the St. Louis U. High delegation still had many successes, with several Jr. Bills elected to office, passing bills, and winning selective awards.
The convention kicked off on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with a brief introductory session given by presiding officers. Senior Connor Gunn, who served as a Speaker of the House, and junior Jack Rosenstengel, the Attorney General, both gave short speeches and then led breakout rooms in order for participants to become familiar with one another and Zoom protocol. The governor for the convention, Margaret Mathis from Cor Jesu’s delegation, gave an overview of the convention and the expectations of each participant.
For only the second time this year, the whole freshman class, along with their senior advisors, flooded onto the campus of St. Louis U. High last Monday to partake in the annual freshman retreat.
Freshman retreat has been a staple for welcoming and providing a bonding experience for the freshman class. The retreat serves as the culminating event for a freshman’s initiation into the world of SLUH, building off of key themes established on Direction Days and Freshman Fun Day/the Running of the Bills. Like all of the other freshman events, the Freshman Retreat underwent minor changes to accommodate safety protocols put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, yet it proved to still provide freshmen with a transformative experience.
“This retreat is important because it is a time where we can talk about God with just us students,” said freshman Ben Ortmann. “No teachers or family members, just students talking about their faith life.”
The St. Louis U. High hockey team laced up the skates for the first game of the season last Friday. Playing against the CBC Cadets at the Centene Center, the Jr. Bills looked to open their season with a win against the reigning runner-ups in Missouri’s Challenge Cup. Though the game would normally have featured the stands packed with sweatshirts, the teams took to the ice with only two attendants per player looking on due to COVID regulations. In a two-week delayed season, the Jr. Bills were unable to pull out a win against their MCC rival. Hanging around 1-0 through the first period, the Jr. Bills couldn’t close the gap in the final two periods, ending with a 6-2 loss, a score that does not do justice to the play of the Jr. Bills.
“CBC is a tough opponent, they’re the team to beat this year,” said head coach Steve Walters. “It was a good gauge for us, it identified our strengths and weaknesses and we’re going to work on that at practice and hopefully be able to implement it in our back-to-back games against Oakville.”
SLUHsers Comic Strip
This past week, St. Louis U. High’s speech team participated in its second match of the season. While the defending champion Jr. Bills currently sit in fourth place in the Christian Interscholastic Speech League (CISL), senior Carter Fortman has maintained a wide lead over his nearest opponents in the Extemporaneous category.
The Saint Louis U. High custodial crew has had to work overtime this year in order to properly sanitize everything and make sure all is clean and safe, in part because there are no work grant students helping this year because of the risks associated with cleaning all the touched surfaces. Missing out on many helping hands, it is difficult to clean everything in the same amount of time with fewer people.
To help with the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saint Louis U. High has welcomed five new substitute teachers this fall to help with various tasks around the school. These subs come from a variety of backgrounds and will serve different purposes based on their skill sets.
Despite several border states—notably Kentucky, Illinois, and Kansas—opting to delay the start of the high school basketball season, Missouri has allowed high school basketball to begin. The St. Louis U. High basketball team will begin its season on Dec. 5 vs. Miller Career Academy.
With the first month of practice under their belt, the Saint Louis U. High wrestling team has shifted its focus from removing off-season rust and extra pounds to preparing for upcoming competitions. Despite the first week of matches being postponed due to issues with the Covid testing center, enthusiasm remains high among the athletes and coaches.
The St. Louis U. High football seniors leave the field with their heads high after a 2-3 season. The offense took a more passing-centric approach while the defense focused on blitizing for the majority of their games. The seniors look towards their own future football careers and SLUH’s future football program with hope that the next season will be Covid-free. And the next generation of Jr. Bill football is ready to begin anew, filling the shoes of the talented senior class.
From tackling the vaping issue last year, to doing an incredible job addressing the coronavirus pandemic, St. Louis U. High has created and provided numerous resources to help its students address some of the most prominent health and mental health issues of our time. However, I believe that SLUH has done an inadequate job of addressing one of the most pressing issues for my generation, the pornography epidemic.
Following a week-long return to all-online school on Monday, Nov. 30, students reported on Tuesday that the eye fatigue caused by back-to-back days of five hours of Zoom calls induced visions of the prophesied end of all time and space, along with images of various SLUH teachers.
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