In the world of virtual classes and extracurriculars, WAHS students are finding ways to stay connected and develop their passions through various clubs and honor societies. Student-run clubs and honor societies have been restricted to virtual meetings. Leaders have had to innovate and brainstorm ideas for virtual meetings and ways to keep students engaged in the Western community despite COVID-19 guidelines.
Club leaders and participants miss having in-person meetings and the connections that come with in-person discussions. Baylee Hughes, co-president of WAHcappella, an a cappella club, said, “We definitely miss being together because we have a lot more fun in person, but it’s still fun to have a place to perform music that is less choral. We have expanded to allow guys this year; we have 2 guys and I think expanding was a great idea. Hopefully we’ll be back to practicing in person soon.”
Juwon Park, president of the WAHS Key Club, a community service-oriented club, commented on the club’s progress. “It’s been going pretty well for us,” Park said, “We have meetings every month where we talk about service updates and important information for members, which could be meetings, positions, or events happening at the district level.”
Enticing students to participate in clubs has proved to be a feat on its own. Some clubs typically gathering 50-60 students for each meeting can barely manage to get 20 students to show up. Lack of incentive (i.e food, social interaction, etc.) and more screen time on Zoom are just a few of the reasons that clubs and honor societies are experiencing lower turnouts.
Some club leaders shared their tips on making meetings interesting and appealing to members:
Park said, “Communication is also really important so we use emails, our club website, and Instagram to inform members.” As for some tips on how to engage students in various activities, Park recommended trying to provide new events for members to participate in, communicating with others to brainstorm ideas, and reaching out to people/organizations.
Ella Taylor, Science National Honor Society officer, said, “To increase club interest online, having a member email list, sending polls/surveys for activities, creating a group-chat or email list between Co-Captains, and using Remind texts and emails can all help create the most interesting meetings for members and boost attendance. Sending personable reminder emails before the event also helps as well.”
Hughes said, “For other club leaders, I would recommend having an active group chat or form of communication other than email; it makes it much easier to plan meetings. Also, just try to be open to changing your club to fit the times. Obviously, an a cappella club is very difficult to continue virtually, but we’re making it work and adapting to the situation.”
WAHS clubs and honor societies have been very successful in developing new meeting ideas based upon what their members would prefer. Hunter Holden, a Rho Kappa officer, said, “Rho Kappa is going great. 30-40 people attend our meetings every month but it does vary. Overall, there is always a good turnout. Mrs. Padron talked to us about Latino/a culture, and we had some people from UVA talk to us about professions abroad and what they do. It has all been very informative and engaging, and I think it has gone well.”
Overall, students enjoy being involved in virtual clubs and honor societies, but they hope to have in-person meetings soon. Ben Brockmeir, a member of Model UN, commented on his virtual club experience, “Going to the conference especially showed me how Model UN suffers online and how much more difficult it was to work with people online, but I would still definitely do Model UN again in the future and I thought it was a fun experience.”
With WAHS planning on moving into Stage 4 on March 15 and implementing a hybrid-learning system, students are hopeful that clubs and honor societies will be given permission to have in-person meetings.