From Afternoon Tea to World Drumming, school clubs have come a long way from the days of Glee Club and Speech & Debate. New clubs of all kinds are formed each year, offering students opportunities to open their world outside of the classroom. We asked some of our area schools to chime in with some of their unique club offerings.
The word “suitcase” is usually synonymous with travel, and that’s what Arcadia High’s Battered Suitcases Club focuses on. Specifically, travel to London.
During spring break, the group flies overseas to experience and learn firsthand about different famous writers and professionals in the art industry. This year, the club has added a second destination: Ireland.
“We go to learn about European writers, compare them to American writers and get a good understanding of where they came from, their culture, and all the stuff that affects their writing and their style of literature,” President Raya Christiansen said.
During the trip, the group visits museums that showcase the writers and important monuments mentioned in their books. The club has 41 members signed up and is already preparing the itinerary.
Arcadia also has a club for musicians. The Rock’N’Roll Club was formed after a student from the music program wanted the chance to enjoy music without the obligation of class limitations.
Instructor Richard Maxwell said that students who join attend the once-a-week meetings to discuss different musical genres and aspects.
“It is designed to be a much more casual experience,” Maxwell said.
Members enjoy their passion in an environment that doesn’t come with the obligation of assignments and grades. One activity focuses on taking different genres of music and critiquing them. One recent meeting had the students listening to the “best and worst Halloween songs.”
Stephanie Hall and Michaela Rolls started Ingleside’s Dungeons and Dragons Club (DnD) together earlier this year and were recently joined by teacher Kevin Chang.
“We have an active membership of 6-10 kids most weeks, but on our busiest day, we saw up to 15 students join,” Rolls said.
Instructors run separate campaigns of the massive role-playing game for small groups of members. Ms. Hall’s campaign is a dungeon-crawling mission from the publishers of DnD, Ms. Roll’s campaign is an investigation into a crime syndicate, and Mr. Chang’s is a story he wrote himself.
“The members have the most fun when they get to enter combat during their campaigns. They like thinking about which spell works best in the situation or which weapon they should use based on where their character and the enemy characters are. They also love celebrating when they are the ones to finish a fight,” Rolls said.
She explained that DnD is an excellent exercise in critical thinking and thinking outside the box.
“It also can help strengthen basic math skills as players keep track of how many spells they can use, what their health is and how much damage they do during combat,” Rolls said.
Also available at Ingleside is the Craft Time Club, which Mrs. Bollhoffer started.
“I started the club with a few of my students,” she said. “We enjoyed making things for projects in class, so I wanted to create a place where that creativity could flourish.”
Around 17 members create everything from bracelets to blankets. Bollhoffer said it’s a great way for members to learn new skills and designs.
“Plus, the students love having time to hang out with their friends and create what they want,” she said.
Spanish teacher Gia Perrone wanted to create a yoga class for students but found it wasn’t the right time. Instead, she starts class off with a yoga session.
“I teach 170 students, and some of them know I teach yoga and asked if we could incorporate it,” Perrone said. “We practice a simple flow and discuss ways breathing can help us with school and emotions.”
She said students enjoy fun postures like headstands, crow and Shavasana the most.
Tavan houses a “World Drumming Club” headed by music instructor Joel Brown.
The group of third through fifth-grade students practices different compositions, from African drumming to boomwhackers (lightweight, hollow, plastic tubes tuned to a musical pitch by length). The club seeks to learn and understand different cultures and histories that correlate with the drums.
Brown said the meetings help build relationships with the students and provide them with a place to relax within school walls.
“While a teacher’s job is to teach and help the kids learn, the other part of our job is to build those relationships,” Brown said. “The club allows us to learn about different cultures.”
Veritas’ DnD Club gained massive popularity after a silent auction two years ago. Fourth-grade teacher Trevor Guyette hosted a DnD party, and after finding that many students wanted to join, the club was formed.
“The party was a big success. Some people wanted to play but couldn’t get in because of the limited seats, so we used that to make the case that we should start a club,” Guyette said.
This year, 20 students are participating. The club meets Tuesday afternoons to “run a different adventure each week.”
Guyette said that the club is almost like a class in that the teachers share information with the members and help them learn different aspects of the game. Students can be creative in their methods and even have weekend parties that sometimes host other clubs.
Another unique group at Veritas is the Afternoon Tea Club.
“Whenever my family travels, we seek out places to have afternoon tea, so I came up with a plan where students could learn about etiquette, history and literature while enjoying the relaxing ritual,” Club instructor Ms. Grimes said.
Sixteen students get together once a month for a themed tea: December is “holiday,” January is “travel.” Each meeting features different sandwiches, desserts and teas for the season.
“The students start out being guests, but as the year progresses, they will learn how to host. Since questions about literature and history come up naturally in conversation, the kids don’t realize they are also learning about that aspect,” Grimes said.
Their first meeting was themed around the origins of afternoon tea and how it is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as “high tea,” according to the instructor.
Grimes said that the members enjoy using china and cloth napkins.
“My favorite part of the initial meeting was the gasps of excitement when they walked in and saw what a real afternoon tea entailed,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to put together, but the point is to relax and wind down.”
In the spring, the group will help put everything together and learn how to host a tea.
“At the heart of etiquette is service to others, and there seem to be some misconceptions about afternoon tea: Are fancy hats necessary? No. Must we stick our pinkies out? No. I wanted to convey that a little formality can be fun,” Grimes explained.
In the future, the club hopes to have a field trip to an actual tea room.
“Even if we aren’t able to, the club members will have learned that, as Henry James said, ‘there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea,’” Grimes said.