CROYA Works to Keep a Sense of Normalcy During COVID-19


Annie Kelly, Staff Writer

A typical Wednesday night for a handful of Lake Forest High school students consists of attending the weekly CROYA meetings at 7 pm. You pull into the CROYA parking lot with all your friends, head inside the doors, and are welcomed with smiling faces and hugs from everyone inside. This year, there may not be the hugs, but the welcoming faces are still there (covered with a mask of course). 

Along with a lot of things, CROYA is looking a little different this year. Some may even ask if there are any meetings going on, and the answer to that is yes. With obvious restrictions and requirements in place, CROYA is still rocking and rolling. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way everyone is operating, and CROYA is no exception,” says CROYA manager, Todd Nahigian. Since the beginning of quarantine, CROYA has been holding meetings. At first, they were via zoom, then segued into smaller, socially distanced meetings throughout the summer. 

Their first big summer meeting was the battle of the bands.

This battle of the band’s event was one of the first big events that CROYA held, following all of the restrictions and guidelines of course. “It was a huge success, and youth who attended were quoted as saying, ‘We needed this!’” Nahigian said when talking about the success of their first meeting amongst the virus.   

The CROYA community was really happy with the outcome of this and was ready to take on the challenge of introducing safe, socially distant traditional Wednesday night meetings. The CROYA youth were ecstatic to hear that CROYA was going to be up and running. 

So far, CROYA has held multiple successful meetings this school year. “All but one of the meetings have taken place outside. When the group is larger than 50, we split them into 2 parts.” Nahigian elaborated on the way these weekly CROYA meetings run. “For the meeting we held indoors, we had one group in CROYA and one group in the Lake Forest Rec Center gymnasium.”    

The youth who attend these meetings seek, and adore CROYA get-togethers. The opportunity to socialize with their peers who they haven’t seen since this new normal began has been limited. “We are able to come together and do fun activities every week, still remaining safe and following guidelines.” Foundation liaison on the CROYA youth board, Anna Seyfert explains. “These activities are really bringing highschoolers together and making life less stressful.”                                                     

As the 2020-2021 school year continues CROYA’s hope is to also continue in providing a safe space for these highschool students to come to. These weekly CROYA meetings are providing these teens a sense of normalcy amongst everything that has happened in the past 7 months. The world has never seen anything like this and neither has CROYA. 

“This is one of the most challenging times I’ve seen in my 25 years at CROYA,” Todd explains. These challenging times have deprived the CROYA youth of many opportunities, but one thing that they have to look forward to are these weekly meetings. 

Keeping everyone safe, the CROYA staff take everyone’s temperature, and ask them a series of health-related questions before every meeting. In addition, an online waiver is required for every student, and their parents need to fill out before they come to CROYA. These things are in place to ensure everyone’s safety because CROYA is all about providing a fun experience, but the CROYA staff and community want to guarantee everyone’s safety first. 

CROYA is open to all of the youth with welcoming arms. “CROYA’s core values are, Acceptance, Respect, Empathy, and Accountability. CROYA strives to be a safe A.R.E.A for all youth.” Nahigian says delineating on all the good the CROYA community has to hold. 

CROYA is truly a light amongst the chaos. “It’s a place where you can be yourself and be surrounded by unconditional positive regard.” Anna Seyfert boasts about the organization. “The CROYA staff and youth are working so hard to keep our programs going and for that, I am so grateful.”

For more information about CROYA, you can follow CROYA on Instagram @croyalflb, join CROYA on Facebook, go to, or call (847) 810-3980.