This past week, pictures of students dressed up with friends to celebrate a makeshift Winterfest flooded social media. While the school hadn’t released any information about a Winterfest date or celebration, dozens of Leesville students met up with friends to take pictures, party, and go out to dinner over the weekend.
However, a shocking amount of the Winterfest-celebrating students chose not to wear masks and were touching to take pictures, ignoring both the statewide mask mandate and social distancing guidelines.
“Groups of 15-20 and even 40 people were showing up on my Snapchat and Instagram,” said Matthew Levecque, a senior at Leesville, in an interview via text. “I actually saw a big, maskless group of Leesville students at the art museum taking photos while I was trying to watch the sunset with my family.”
He believes that Winterfest was not the only time these students have been disregarding COVID-19 safety rules and is frustrated with the lack of self discipline many Leesville students have been demonstrating during the pandemic.
“These students all have social media accounts and make posts… I see them together all the time whether they’re out at a restaurant in a large group or at a huge party at someone’s house every Friday and Saturday night.”
Levecque feels that other students’ disregard for safety is unfair to those who have been socially distancing in hopes that the pandemic would end quickly, himself included. He believes that their unwillingness to do their part in making sacrifices, such as wearing masks and meeting with smaller groups of people, is causing those who are socially distancing to have to sacrifice more and for longer periods of time.
“These students have the privilege of ignorance during this time and get to go out and do what they want without caring, but since I have compassion and care for others, I have to not see my friends, not see my family, and miss out on all these events,” said Levecque. “I am mature enough, however, to get over the losses from this past year because it’s the right thing to do, but these individuals obviously haven’t matured enough.”
He has made his opinions public on social media in hopes of sparking healthy conversation and educating the people who chose to be unsafe during Winterfest, but found that most of those students stayed silent. “All of the people that celebrated viewed my post, but only one responded,” said Levecque.
As frustrated as he feels toward students who are disregarding safety guidelines, he believes that showing empathy and kindness is important, and hopes to educate people on the importance of wearing a mask and socially distancing. “One girl decided to make a snarky comment then say ‘I already got my vaccine’. I wanted to go off on her in the moment, but instead I sent her an article on how to still be covid safe post-vaccination and explained how what she was doing was not a very good choice,” said Levecque.
To Leesville students who celebrated Winterfest as well as those who did not: Please respect the statewide mask mandate and social distancing regulations for the safety of yourselves, your loved ones, and the community. Next week marks one full year in the pandemic, and while it’s been a difficult time for all of us, it takes strength, unity, and teamwork to make it through to the end.