Nathan Miller | Editor-in-Chief
Avon’s Business Professionals of America club was at its State Leadership Conference in Indianapolis on March 9 when senior Chloe Gilmore received a call from her sponsor asking her and her friends to come meet with her. Gilmore had already heard that Avon schools were being closed, so she thought her sponsor wanted to talk about school being canceled.
“Then she told us to pack our bags,” Gilmore said.
After at least one student contracted the coronavirus, Superintendent Dr. Maggie Hoernemann was clear that Avon Community School Corporation would be taking major precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“All practices, extracurricular activities, and school events are cancelled,” Hoernemann said after announcing school would be closed for two weeks.
Gilmore said she was insulted by how she was treated after the closure was announced.
“We were told that they were going to deep clean our rooms that we were staying in,” Gilmore said. “Everybody there that was a student from the other schools knew about it, so they were making fun of us.”
Worse yet, Gilmore said, she and her friends would be missing out on a host of important activities.
“I was going to get certified in leadership,” Gilmore said. “You had to go to six meetings, and I missed most of them, so I didn’t get my certification.”
Gilmore is not alone in feeling that she missed out; other Avon BPA members were looking forward to being recognized for their accomplishments.
“There was an award ceremony the morning of Tuesday, so we weren’t even there at all Tuesday,” Gilmore said. “We had a couple people that got awards and would have walked across the stage and been honored.”
Indiana’s BPA State Adviser Jason Hendrickson said these awards have been delivered to Avon’s BPA sponsor.
Not only was Gilmore’s BPA experience cut short, but her invitation to an art show was rescinded after the news. A ceramic vase that Gilmore made was slated to be featured at the show.
“I was disappointed,” Gilmore said. “I saw [the email] and I was like ‘oh, cool, another thing that they’re discluding Avon students from.’”
Ceramics teacher Sarah Fowler, who invited Gilmore to the show, said she will still be honored at Avon High School’s art show on May 13.
Though she said she’s disheartened, Gilmore said she also understands why these decisions were made.
Junior Ryan Spees doesn’t agree with the precautionary measures being implemented. He said he thinks it was the wrong move to close school.
“If I were in charge,” Spees said, “I would simply make it mandatory for all students to wash their hands before and after entering every class.”
Spees said he thinks the negative impacts of this decision will far outweigh any positives. As a symphony orchestra cellist, he is especially worried about his extracurriculars.
“You are taking an entire month off of working with an orchestra that needs to be ready for State in less than a month,” Spees said. “Orchestra members must make sure that they practice diligently in order to not create massive problems when the time comes to perform.”
The Indiana State School Music Association, or ISSMA, will select finalists on May 2 who will compete at state on May 9. Junior Bella Rios, a symphony violinist, said she is concerned but thinks they will still be prepared.
“I think we’re all a little bit nervous just because we had so many rehearsals that we can’t go to, and all in-class time was taken away,” Rios said. “We’re kind of just banking on the fact that we can pull it together in April.”
Orchestra is not the only performing art that has been affected; Avon’s show choirs will be unable to compete at Brownsburg High School’s March 14 Bulldog Classic. Senior Zach Godsey is one of the singers affected.
“We started learning choreography for our show all the way back in fall break,” Godsey said. “Some of our longest practices were three or four hours long just running our show.”
Not only will Avon miss the Bulldog Classic, but they will miss the State finals. ISSMA announced that all events would be canceled through April 11.
“This would include all Junior/Middle/Elementary Concert Organization Festivals and the ISSMA State Show Choir and Jazz Finals,” according to ISSMA’s news release.
Choir Director Richard Gamble said he’s sad his students won’t be able to participate.
“The rest of the [show choir] season was cancelled, so they can’t go to state,” Gamble said. “Really too bad because they had their best chance ever this year.”
Godsey said this fact is upsetting.
“With the Brownsburg competition and with State that was also cancelled – that is like the climax of our season. That is where everything comes together. That is our last show,” Godsey said. “Show choir is basically put in the ground, and ISSMA cancelling state was like a nail in the coffin.”
Some show choir singers have taken to Change.org to ask for a redress of this decision. A Change.org petition whose goal is the “retraction of ISSMA State Show Choir and Jazz Finals cancellations” had been signed by 1,000 people, including Godsey, 20 hours after being posted.
The petition reads, “Having all of this preparation and money, along with four years of anticipation for us seniors, thrown into the drain by a small group of bureaucratic adults who are paranoid about one of the most over-dramatised [sic] and overblown ‘pandemics’ of all time is not only extremely disappointing and heartbreaking… but also disheartening.”
Gamble said he understands how frustrating this is for his singers.
“We’re sorry for them. We as directors are heavily invested in our students – we feel their pain,” Gamble said. “Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime. Even 9/11 wasn’t this disruptive. I think that knowing that everyone is in the same boat will help, eventually.”
This may not be the end of all of Avon’s projects, however. Broadcasting teacher Lauren Tauer has been organizing Avon’s lip-dub throughout this year; she said Avon is working hard, still trying to make the lip-dub happen.
“The decision will come from administration,” Tauer said. “They want to let us continue with our plan, but its a bit of a waiting game… to make sure we can do this without risking anyone’s health.”
Tauer said her students are ready to film as soon as possible.
“Avon TV students are awesome,” Tauer said. “We will be ready to record if and when we get the go-ahead.”
Indiana’s State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said regardless of how inconvenient these cancellations are, it is all done in the name of student safety.
“[ACSC has] come to what they think, out of an abundance of caution, is the best way to make sure that they are protecting all of the youth here in Avon Community Schools,” Box said. “They are exceeding even that which the CDC might recommend that they have to do, just trying to make sure that we are keeping the health of the students here and the safety at the utmost of every decision that is made.”