In August 2020, Smoky Hill High School‘s National English Honor Society (NEHS) met for the first time since the previous March, when Colorado first went on lockdown. We were meeting online and expected to remain online for the remainder of the year, and thus far our prediction has held true. However, as a service-based club truly dedicated to helping our school and the surrounding community with literacy, we faced a challenge aside from holding online meetings and retaining members: we wanted to hold our usual philanthropic events in the virtual world. It presented a difficult problem for our club, and we at first had a myriad of possible solutions. However, as each week went by, fewer of our regular events were possible: We were not able to tutor at the local elementary school, we were not able to help with the craft fair, and we were not able to participate in our school’s annual Extremefest (where all the clubs in the building gather to raise money for Make-A-Wish).
By November, we had done very limited work, mostly focused within our own club, reading short stories for our book club and interacting with other clubs to do high school tutoring. It was at that point that we began to work on the Trivia Bowl. Each year, Smoky Hill High School’s NEHS holds a Trivia Bowl where we invite students from around the school to a competition of general knowledge to raise money for our school’s annual Make-A-Wish fundraiser. This year, we knew we would have to hold it online, and we knew we would have to change our entire game plan to make it successful, so that is what we did. Beginning in November, we brainstormed how we would hold a fun and competitive Trivia Bowl online and how we would encourage students to join us virtually even after being in online school all day. We began brainstorming fun categories that everyone could enjoy, and we started working to fulfill our commitment to serving our community.
Although I had helped to lead the Trivia Bowl the year before, I knew our Trivia Bowl this year would be an entirely different challenge. There were so many questions no one in our club or greater school could answer. We decided, after much deliberation, that the best way to hold an online Trivia Bowl would be to use Zoom and Kahoot together, splitting teams off into different breakout rooms where they could simulate the typical feel of a Trivia competition, able to discuss and deliberate on answers and knowledge. We chose categories that were a mix of relevant, traditional, and simply fun, ranging from COVID-19 Activities, Pandemic Trivia (about historical and fictional pandemics), Literature, Linguistics, Riddles, and Food.
There were many challenges, and I wouldn’t want to make it seem like this process was a walk in the park. We had to organize our club, remotely, to write all of the questions, then myself and our club Secretary—Rohan Guddanti—copied all the questions into a Kahoot, worked out the timing by testing it on our club, and had each member practice running a breakout room to be prepared for the night of the event: January 25. In order to accomplish all of this, we had to meet twice as often as regular, and the officers met even more. However, by January, we had a plan set, questions written, and marketing strategy ready. We managed to overcome all of the challenges that faced us, surprising our entire school community.
We did our best to get the word out to the school, but in the end, we only had four teams participating, a fraction of our usual number. Additionally, there were many technological challenges. Some NEHS members were unable to run breakout rooms, and others were unable to share the Kahoot on their screen. However, we were able to overcome each of the challenges that presented themselves, and we had a successful event. We raised money for Make-A-Wish, took pictures for our school yearbook, and had a lot of fun watching our work come to fruition. The event itself had a great reception from everyone who attended, and since its success, other clubs at our school have asked if we could help them to run additional trivia activities for various fundraisers.
My Chapter Advisor suggested I write this article to inspire other NEHS chapters: There are ways to hold community service events online. It takes work and dedication, sure, but it is rewarding for the club and the school as a whole. I would encourage everyone out there to try to find one of the philanthropic events that their chapter usually holds, and change it to fit in our new, online world.