The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many of the usual experiences associated with high school. This year, it’s more important than ever to encourage students to reach out to and meet new people to make up for all the lost time from the pandemic. Four Seniors, Jaisal Chopra, Zoe Kukla, Ben McKim, and Jade Tarango, have taken on the responsibility of becoming Hawk Team Liaisons and are working hard to reconnect Eastern students with one another through renovating Hawk Teams.
Hawk Teams first arrived at Eastern in 2018 as a way to help fix the “clique culture” in the school and encourage students to interact with those they’d normally never get to know. Although Hawk Teams have received a fair amount of criticism from students and teachers alike, the senior liaisons are determined to take the constructive criticism and turn Hawk Teams into something students will enjoy and benefit from. They’ve been working alongside Ms. Cvengros, Ms. Morley, and Mr. McGee to formulate Hawk Team plans with a student perspective to make the most out of the experience.
In the last several years, Hawk Teams have been put on hold leading many students to be unsure of what Hawk Teams is all about, Jaisal Chopra shares that the ultimate purpose of Hawk Teams is “to improve the culture of Eastern and to create more connectivity between grades.” It can be intimidating to talk with upperclassmen as a freshman or sophomore (we’ve all been there). However, Hawk Teams hopes to showcase that we all have more in common than what we might think at first -regardless of what grade we’re in.
The liaisons hope to address some of the past concerns about Hawk Teams: awkwardness, lack of leadership and direction from senior leaders, forced participation, etc. Zoe Kukla states “there will be more opportunities for student-based conversations and activities,” and that the liaisons will “continue to take constructive criticism into consideration.” Ben McKim shared some of the solutions that helped to alleviate some of the awkwardness of previous years. He remarked that “making smaller teams has been a really important focus for us this year,” along with “[increasing] leadership opportunities and skills for seniors.” With smaller teams and more leadership comes more opportunities to get to know your group members on a significantly closer level.
While the liaisons know and acknowledge that Hawk Teams won’t be everyone’s favorite, they’re hopeful that everyone can make something out of it; whether that is fostering a new friendship or simply relaxing outside of class. Jade Tarango encourages everyone to “bring their enthusiasm and take the time to interact with their Hawk Team members in and outside of the classroom.” This will allow everyone to make the most out of the experience.