ESSO's uninterrupted service

ESSO continues its legacy of work in the community despite separation.

By
The ESSO Board
July 31, 2020

Spring term of separation and a world beleaguered by challenges did nothing to slow down the Exeter Student Service Organization’s efforts to positively impact people around the globe. As soon as we got the news that we would not be returning to campus, the eight newly appointed ESSO board members began the process of training new club heads, making sure that clubs could still operate while increasing accessibility and shaping ESSO for the school year to come.

ESSO was formally established in 1987, though service is a founding tenet of the Academy, and work in support of the community has been ongoing for generations. This past school year, nearly 600 students filled 61 clubs under ESSO’s umbrella, focusing on everything from food insecurity among Seacoast New Hampshire residents, to teaching Chinese to local school children, to fundraising to find a cure for cancer. It was essential to the board to continue that work in spite of our separation.

Students visit The Exeter Center senior living facility to serenade locked-down residents while observing proper distance.

For our co-presidents, Caroline Luff ’21 and Ellie Griffin ’21, preserving the human connection that makes ESSO so meaningful to be a part of was no small order. For board meetings, Zoom games like “Guess the Baby!” helped us get to know each other from afar. Kahoot, a digital game-based learning platform, helped us keep our club-head training session interesting and fun. Although there is no replacement for in-person interaction, ESSO remains as connected as ever. 

Luff, when not running ESSO or cross-country, is also one of the club heads of ESSO’s Gal Pals, which brings together women with disabilities from the Exeter community. Ordinarily, Gal Pals meet biweekly in the basement of Phillips Church to paint nails, bake treats or do arts and crafts. Instead of letting quarantine hinder their fun, club members used Zoom to keep the Gals connected — getting almost all of their usual members together for a game of Pictionary. 

ESSO Gal Pals meet over video-conference. 

When PEA’s curriculum transitioned online, ESSO Tutoring for Children reacted in kind. The need for tutors blossomed as more youngsters than ever before were at home, far away from their teachers, with parents juggling work and home life. By using seemingly every online platform under the sun, ESSO Tutoring — led by club heads Panchali Choudhary ’21, Jordyn Koche ’21 and Christian Molina ’21 — was able to expand its operations to more New Hampshire schools while connecting students in need with Exonians around the world. 

ESSO Diversity, which usually travels weekly to Main Street School to read stories emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusion to kindergartners and first- and second-graders, also adapted well to its circumstances. By partnering closely with Main Street School’s guidance counselor, club heads Zoe Barron ’21, Dilan Cordoba ’21 and Gabrielle Shetreet ’21 were able to make sure that the book read-alouds that they recorded from home continued to be a part of the school’s curriculum. 

ESSO Tutoring for Children took its efforts fully online and expanded its reach.

ESSO Diversity is also working over the summer to create a learning library full of more read-aloud books to help parents continue lessons with their children. 

To bring all of the ESSO clubs’ online resources together, our directors of communication, Noah James ’21 and Phil Horrigan ’21, revived ESSO’s YouTube channel. In addition to ESSO Diversity’s read-alouds, the channel houses a wide variety of activities, from sports drills and a baking challenge to science experiments and dance lessons. 

Along with the YouTube channel, Horrigan and James revamped ESSO’s website, now located at ExeterService.org. There you will find ESSO news, a complete list of clubs and our newsletters. Finally, an effort to completely rebrand ESSO began this past term. You can see a sneak peek of our new colors on the website, but our new logo and shirt design will stay secret until fall.

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