By Garrett Mitchell, Contributing Writer
Aaron Groomes was elected by his peers to represent the students of Woodruff High School as the student body president for the 2019-20 school year.
Now, with school officially closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the academic year due to the ongoing pandemic, Groomes is continuing to fulfill his duties from afar as he continues working for and helping the students in his charge.
“I am in constant contact with administration about different things we can do to try to keep the spirits of our students up,” said Groomes. “Being a very sociable person, COVID-19 has really taken that away from me. I’m grateful for technology that allows me to still be able to connect with my friends, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Being part of student government, it’s hard for me to not see the student participation that we were seeing this year. In my four years at Woodruff High School, student participation was at an all-time high.”
Never one to back down from a challenge, Groomes has met head-on the obstacles of working and coordinating the Woodruff High student government from home while also keeping up with his classes.
No stranger to adversity, Groomes is used to finding ways to succeed as he did during his time as a football player for the Wolverines. An injury during his junior season in 2018 saw his career as a player come to an end, but Groomes is not one to simply sit on the sideline.
“With COVID-19 forcing my home to become my school, it definitely adds a challenge to being student body president, but I always love a good challenge,” said Groomes. “Instead of being able to walk into [assistant principal] Mrs. Morris’ office and talk to her about an idea, I’m now having to text her. Instead of having [student body vice president] Caitlyn Morris and [secretary/treasurer] Morgan Barnett pretty close to talk to, I’m now having to text them about different things.”
Groomes admits that maintaining the strength to keep going while socially distancing has been hard, even for him, but that he has leaned on his family for encouragement and advice during what has been a difficult and trying year.
“My biggest source of encouragement has definitely been my parents,” added Groomes. “They have continuously talked to me about how I cannot control the situation when I’m upset. It’s helped me cope with not being able to play sports and see my friends by just knowing that I have to control what I can control, and everything else will work its self out.”
He continued, “I’m finally starting to get into a new routine of getting up and doing my school work and then going to work, but it’s just not the same anymore.”
Groomes says he has learned valuable lessons during his time away from school, the biggest perhaps being that the role of a leader has no set place and time. Using that philosophy, Groomes has made it his mission to make the remainder of the school year the best that it can be for the student body of Woodruff High School and for himself.
“There’s a lot of things I’m unable to do from home that I enjoyed doing while at school, but this pandemic has really taught me that you can be a leader no matter where you’re placed,” he said.
With just a few short weeks remaining in his high school journey, and that of the 2020 senior class, Groomes has a message that he wants all Woodruff students to hear, both his fellow seniors and the underclassmen who will carry the torch into a new school year this fall.
“I just want to thank the Class of 2020 for an awesome and amazing year,” stated Groomes. “We had so much fun doing some new things this year, and I hate that it got cut short. I’ve grown up with you for 12 years and to know that graduation was our last hope at spending some time together is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for seniors across the country and I feel for you all. We’re all now one Class of 2020 instead of separated by high schools. This pandemic brought us together. To all my former teachers and administration, thank you for not giving up on any student, especially the Class of 2020. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. Lastly, I want to think the rest of the student body. Thank you for allowing me to lead you this year in my role as student body president. To the next student body president, don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy your senior year because it goes by way too fast. Forever and ever a Wolverine, Aaron Groomes, student body president 2019-2020 is out.”