In a unique move to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Mayor Carlo DeMaria has agreed to dance.
In return, Everett High Class President Ashley Yebba and other high school athletes and leaders will challenge their peers to stay out of the parks and to do better at practicing social distancing.
Last Thursday, Mayor DeMaria and the youth leaders held their first Zoom call regarding how the young people felt about missing so many important things at the end of the school year. The call, however, was meant to be a discussion about encouraging other young people – via a Tic Toc (a dance application) social media challenge – to stay home. The campaign is headed up by Yebba using the hashtag #StayHomeEverett, and will also feature Mayor DeMaria showing his best dance moves in the Tic Toc challenge.
Yebba said they are already featuring some young people telling other why they are staying home, some for their grandparents and others for health care workers in their family. The campaign is focused on young people because it was harder for them initially to get the message about not going to the parks or congregating in groups or playing team sports.
“I think I really appreciate the mayor reaching out to the kids,” Yebba said. “I feel it’s more of the young people who weren’t completely focused on what was going on. Our parents and grandparents are concerned. Going to the leaders of our class and to others at the school and asking us for help to get the message out is such a great idea and unique…I’m seeing a lot of people already who are getting the message and there has been a positive response on social media already. We have to let young people know that just because they might have a better immune system than other people, it doesn’t mean they can go outside and do whatever they want. It’s helping them understand the greater good and be concerned about everyone around them.”
Mayor DeMaria said he intends to hold up his promise to start his Tic Toc dance challenge, and he also wants to continue having weekly Zoom calls with young people every Thursday as the pandemic response continues.
“We had a great conversation with the Class of 2020 and a lot of the other student leaders and the athletes,” he said. “I really tried to encourage them to be known as the Class of 2020 that stepped up and helped out and pushed social distancing and keeping others healthy. Maybe other kids will take this on in other high schools and other cities and maybe even other states…We have to let them know what we’re doing is trying to protect their grandparents, their parents and the health care workers. It was a great conversation and I know they’ll do a great job.”
The mayor said he and Supt. Priya Tahiliani, who was also on the call, really feel bad for the senior class as they are missing a lot of activities and, possibly, spring sports seasons too.
Yebba said they are unique in that most were born around the time of 9/11, and they are leaving high school during a pandemic – an unfortunate coincidence. However, instead of being remembered for tragedy, they hope to be remembered as a very persistent group of young people.
“I hope we’re remembered as the class that never gave up and always is fighting,” Yebba said. “People always say we came in during 9/11 and are leaving high school in a pandemic. We’re going to accomplish a lot in our lives. This class is one of the smartest classes to come out of Everett High in a long time, and we’re going to be people that will not give up.”
To be a part of the #StayHomeEverett campaign, go online to the City’s social media pages.