Students Adapt Leadership Roles Amid COVID-19 Crisis

girl painting image of rainbow

When the outbreak of the novel coronavirus prompted UCLA Lab School to transition to remote learning, Upper II students looked for ways to adapt their leadership year to offer meaningful help despite being apart.

First up, they led the school to join in the worldwide rainbow art project. Mentored by Demonstration Teachers Julie Kern and Adriana Sheinbaum and using recycled objects and tools from home, students created banners with painted rainbow motifs and the messages “todo saldra bien” and “everything’s gonna be alright.” Then they shared their work and invited the school community to join them in keeping friends, family, and strangers motivated during these challenging times.

In an interview with the Palisadian Post, Ms. Kern described the project’s purpose, to “lift other people up and to give signs of hope in the community…to give children some beautiful and constructive things to do at home by finding materials and turning it into a message.” This gesture represented solidarity with children creating similar rainbow art all over the world.

As the students promoted messages of hope, they continued their student leadership work as well. Although they weren’t able to be on campus to perform the jobs they usually do to serve the school community – such as helping out in the front office, in classrooms and at carpool — they adapted to find new ways to serve from home. Students are using a design thinking process to notice the challenges their own families and neighbors face and to think creatively about how to address them. They formed partnerships across the class to take on small projects such as writing a humorous book to lift the spirits of health care workers and creating an audio library of read-alouds to share with younger students in the school.

Through these projects, students are sharpening their skills in literacy and problem solving and learning to prioritize helping those in need. One community identified was the senior citizen population—the students worry this community suffers from loneliness during the COVID crisis. Using the remaining funds from a bake sale, one pair of students decided to create activity baskets for a local senior citizen meal delivery service.

Through this work, Ms. Kern and Ms. Sheinbaum said, they hope to instill the importance of seeing the world as a place where even the smallest community can make a difference. Despite being apart, together we can help people.