The Emergence of Sophomore Club Raises Questions to their Sincerity
At the height of the teacher’s protests in the spring, there was also a surge of action taken by many freshmen: turning in their applications for new clubs in the upcoming year. Many dismiss these clubs as being solely for college applications, while others assume best intentions.
All existing and new clubs need to turn in an application, or charter, for their club, which is paperwork that sets the blueprint for that club. Even when all this paperwork is filled out and turned in, the AHS Clubs Committee chooses select clubs to exist for the next year. Starting a club looks good on college applications; but not without a cost.
One so-called ‘sophomore club’ that was approved was Biochemistry Club. Their president, Sonali Bhattacharjee (10), said, “It’s a struggle … because I’ve never done any sort of major leadership role until now; it’s like being thrown in the deep end.” However, she has not been discouraged, stating “It’s still worth it because I’m doing something I love.”
Mr. Fulton is the activities director at American, which lays clubs under his jurisdiction. Many clubs do not get approved by the committee, Fulton explains. “Usually the biggest part is, ‘Does [the club] meet a need? Is this something that already exists?’ And then also looking at what their plan is.”
Anchal Lamba (12) is the president of one of the most popular clubs at American; Interact Club. While she didn’t start her own club, she became an officer for Interact her sophomore year.
Lamba explained how Interact became such a big part of her life: “The first meeting … was so much different from all the other ones. Other ones were basic info, but [Interact] had videos and an activity to do and it was really all about service.” The purpose and uniqueness of the club led her to become more involved throughout her four years of high school.
Advisors are also a big part of what makes a club a success. Mr. Carel, teacher and advisor for the Model UN Club, fills in a lot of needs such as a classroom, the need for advisors at events, and handling paperwork such as waivers. The Model UN Club is in its second year being advised by Mr. Carel. He often sites the student’s dedication as the reason for the club’s success, stating “I think that dedication comes from a deep interest in the topic and the students are very proactive and organized, and I think that’s a big thing with any club.” While college applications are cited to be the driving force behind clubs, it is unlikely that colleges can make a student passionate and dedicated about a topic they have little to no interest in.
There are also clubs started by people who are in their junior or senior year of high school. The Psychology Club, founded by Alison Zhao (11), was approved by the committee along with Biochemistry Club.
Zhao says that starting her club as a junior was very helpful because of established relationships and knowledge about the club system, but she also encourages sophomores starting clubs, saying “I applaud [sophomores who start clubs] because that’s really brave of them to try to extend the horizons.”
While the exact motives of sophomore clubs cannot be pinpointed, it is agreed that if there is no real interest in the club, it is hard for the club to be a success. Alison Zhao (11) remembers what her advisor told her, paraphrasing “I want this club to be about real passion, not just something that you put on your college apps and then when you graduate the club disbanded because it has run out of steam.” It seems American’s population will keep waiting to see which clubs will pass the test of time.