LHS seniors use ‘positive peer pressure’ to encourage masks


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — We often report on the dangers of peer pressure. In this case, though, some Lincoln High seniors say they have good intentions. It’s homecoming week at LHS. The newly crowned king and queen are using their platforms to tackle COVID-19 and influence underclassmen to do the same.

It feels good to be king and queen.

“It felt amazing. Amazing to have all my friends there, cheering me on,” Nicholas Jensen, homecoming king, said.

“It was exciting. It was a fun night and a pretty memorable for everyone,” Elizabeth Jerstad, homecoming queen, said.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, or, in this case, mask. Jensen and Queen Elizabeth Jerstad say with great power comes great responsibility.

“At football games, we’ll say, underclassmen, put on your masks,” Jensen said.

These two are just some of the seniors using their influence to encourage their younger peers to wear masks at school, to help keep others from getting sick.

“It’s peer pressure, but it’s positive peer pressure to do the right thing,” Jerstad said.

Though wearing masks has become highly politicized, the CDC still recommends them to slow the spread of the COVID-19.

“I don’t like it. I’ve gotten used to it, but obviously it’s not only to protect our loved ones, but to keep the school year going,” Jensen said.

Jerstad says nobody is forcing her to do this.

“It’s a choice I made consciously and I do it to respect others. I do it to respect myself,” Jerstad said.

It appears to be working. Sophomore Samantha Zeeck estimates about 95-percent of students wear them. She says it helps to see older students set an example.

“I think it’s really good because a lot of people follow others, so if they see everyone wearing a mask, then they’re thinking I should wear one, too,” Zeeck said.

Starting the school year as king and queen feels good. Jensen and Jerstad say doing what they can to keep others safe, and make it to the end of their senior year, will be the real crowning achievement.

“As a senior, I can’t force that. You know, it’s not my place to tell people what they can and cannot do, but I would really encourage people to wear masks,” Jerstad said.

When KELOLAND News asked the school district which students to interview for this story, the district chose Jensen and Jerstad. We want to note Nicholas Jensen happens to be the son of KELOLAND Media Group’s news director, Beth Jensen. Though the School District expects students to wear masks, it does not require them to do so. A spokesperson says the district doesn’t punish students who make the choice to not wear masks.

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