Not only have students dug into their studies; they’ve begun participating in clubs with great enthusiasm.
"It’s good news that we have had so many new clubs – a record number – proposed by students this year," says Director of Community Service, Clubs and CAS Tom Babits. It’s an indication of how enthusiastic they are about engaging with each other and their interests."
The majority of clubs continue to meet online, in accordance with the College’s COVID-19 protocols, but that doesn’t seem to have dimmed the students’ eagerness to participate, with 106 clubs now up and running.
Babits says the lessons learned overseeing clubs last year have led to a refined and consistent schedule and timetable. During the summer, Babits and Apostolos Zezos, the Year 12 student who is the community service steward, worked hard to create a more workable scheduling system.
"In the past, club heads could choose the day for meetings without any system," Zezos says. "This year, I wanted to bring a new look to the system, even though clubs are still virtual and there are limits to the amount of time to meet. I also wanted to incorporate the CAS concepts, creativity, activity and service, which are fundamental to school life.”
Given that there are three times each week slated for clubs to meet synchronously – two during the school day and one after school – Babits and Zezos divided the clubs into the three CAS categories and attempted to distribute them fairly among the time slots. The biggest clubs were generally given the one after-school slot, since they are attractive enough to draw students after school hours.
"The whole idea with CAS is to give students a holistic balance of opportunities," Zezos says. "Mr. Babits advised people to try more things and break out of their comfort zones."
A few clubs have received permission to meet in person, using the Conference of Independent Schools' athletic participation framework as guidance: one is the Model United Nations club, which has debate which is competition-focused, similar to a sports team. The club members gather weekly in an outdoor tent on campus.
Matt Griem, the economics teacher who oversees Model UN, says the opportunity to meet in person is due to the enthusiasm of the club executive, headed by Jordan Van Slingerland and Nick Reszetnik.
"They wrote a three-page proposal about how they would follow guidelines and how they would do things outdoors," Griem says. “Everyone signs in with a QR code, everyone wears masks and the students sit separated by grade levels. It’s hard for everyone, but they are willing to do these things to make it possible and there has been real payoff for taking it so seriously: we’ve had some great meetings.
"There is a huge craving for normalcy."
"Some clubs are meeting outdoors at lunch while the weather is good, sitting the proper distance apart. It’s exciting, after 19 months, to have some type of normal interaction."
Notes Zezos, "One thing I’ve learned is that things are very fluid and we have to learn to adapt."