If you hadn’t noticed, it’s been a tremendously weird and difficult year. Everyone experienced different ups and downs, and there were a lot of times where the both of us felt pretty ready to hide under our blankets for a few weeks. But looking back on the year, we can’t help but think of the laughter. Amid exhausted tears, dinners with family and friends, mask policies, late-night study sessions, cohorts, intramurals, hugs, dancing, mentorships, exams, and nerves, we can’t help but remember the genuine moments and admire what we’ve overcome together.

It reminds us a bit of Middle School. We’d go out on these trips to Camp Thunderbird, slightly unprepared and often away from family for the first time. We slept terribly, the food wasn’t great, it always seemed to rain excessively for our unsuspecting cotton hoodies – but man, did we laugh (those are still the best stories!). Looking back, we appreciate the adversity and we crack-up at the ridiculous inevitables that were out of our control. Now, this year certainly came with challenges beyond undercooked mac and cheese and first periods, but we kept going, and we got through it together.

This year opened the door to new traditions throughout the community. We were afforded the opportunity to not only explore old traditions and reconfigure them but to create new traditions of our own. For example, the SMUS Holiday Assembly. Unfortunately, we were unable to have the grand gathering that students look forward to each December, which left us with the sole option to reshape the old tradition. The overarching question for many comparable projects was, “How can we bring the community together and create a meaningful experience in the face of COVID regulations?”

We learned so much this year and the more we reflect, the more deep-seated and continual the learning becomes. We’ve learned to bring people together and make the big ideas happen one step at a time. We’ve learned about partnership, mentorship, delegating and when to ask for help. We’ve learned about self-doubt and self-confidence. We’ve learned to be flexible. A "no" or "there’s no way we can do that" is not unfamiliar to us. We’ve learned about the power of perspective and that happiness comes from what you make of a situation, no matter the circumstance. We all have the choice of whether to let challenges tear us down or to rise above them and persevere.

We feel incredibly humbled to have been elected leaders in such an unpredictable year. We struggled, at times, with the feeling that we weren’t doing enough. When we were elected we had dreams of big reform and crazy, energetic assemblies together, but that wasn’t a reality this year. The Prefect Council shifted its goals. We made supporting each other a priority. No matter how small the scale, being honest and there for others was something we could do. The council focused on supporting people’s mental health, creating some fun, and working on lasting change. Each of us grew and worked on ourselves, ceaselessly striving to become better individuals and leaders.

Looking back at this year, we can’t help but feel grateful. We feel grateful for being at school together. We feel like being without so many things has inspired a deep and unique appreciation for simply being beside each other; it’s something we know that we’ll personally continue to carry with us for life. COVID has inspired a lot of beautiful things and we can’t wait to see the continued growth of our community in every way, and the laughter that comes from undercooked mac and cheese.