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Clubs through COVID-19
October 26, 2020
COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on clubs requiring them to adjust accordingly to keep their members and sponsors safe. Some clubs have chosen to not have meetings at all until they can meet in-person. While other clubs and societies like National Honors Society, Kay Service Club, the Distributive Education Clubs of America, Diversity Council, the Black Student Union, and the National Spanish Honors Society, have chosen to meet online.
National Honors Society
This year, the National Honors Society (NHS) plans to continue meeting as a club through scheduled zooms despite school restrictions due to COVID-19. Teacher sponsor Todd Petersen said for this semester and likely next semester, the club will continue to meet through zoom. Petersen said due to the size of the club, NHS will have to continue meeting independently using zoom during the time that school is in the hybrid model.
Petersen said the club will still try to meet as often as last year but they are still trying to find their footing before moving forward.
“I’m just less confident about what we’re going to get out of those meetings and how we’re going to be an organization that adds a lot of value,” Petersen said. “It’s certainly going to look differently than it has in the past.”
Petersen said what the club does and how they offer their services have changed significantly, and they are still trying to figure it out.
“When you have so much distance, figuratively and literally, between students and the classroom and the building, it’s hard to figure out how to transition from where we were in March to where we want to be in August when everything’s been on hold,” Petersen said.
Petersen said the club has changed its application deadline, admission process and induction date. Last spring, NHS did not have an election to determine the officers for this year, Petersen said, and this semester it was put on hold due to online learning.
“We talked to all the people who showed an interest in continued leadership roles within the organization,” Petersen said. “We’re going to be a leadership committee kind of thing and we’ll figure out what roles and titles we have later.”
Petersen said they are trying to work through ways to provide community service in a time when the ability to do so has changed significantly.
Liana Almeida, a senior on the NHS leadership board, said they are doing a leadership board instead of four or five positions.
“We’re all just kind of working together because in the past it has never really worked out only having five people. Not a lot gets done,” Almeida said.
Almeida said that they are talking about ideas that they could do to be more than just a blood drive, which the NHS does every year but is unable to do this year.
“We’re trying to come up with other ways to get more involved with the school so students can see that and be like, ‘Oh, I want to be part of that,’” Almeida said.
Almeida said that while they have not gotten very far into planning, their current plan is to work on tutoring since students do not have a tutoring center anymore.
Petersen said the one good thing about these changes is that the guiding leaders of the organization will benefit from getting real-world leadership opportunities.
“In a world where everyone’s trying to figure out the different rules to how things work, it’s been a challenge, but it’s been good from a sponsor’s perspective to see how the students step up and try and make a difference and see what they can do,” Petersen said.
Petersen said he is happy that he has a group of leaders who want to be involved and implement change at a time when it is difficult to do so.
“We have the excuse to say ‘hey, since things are different now, what do we need to do to evaluate the organization as a whole to make it better,’” Petersen said.
Petersen said he believes that the opportunity to do change, although it will be conducted differently, will ultimately help the organization because of the quality of leadership of the students that he has.
National Spanish Honors Society
The National Spanish Honors Society has not had an induction ceremony or any meetings due to COVID-19.
Club sponsor Heather Martens said she plans to have an induction ceremony over zoom for her virtual students and a small ceremony after school for her in-person students.
“[The in-person induction ceremony] won’t be like we normally do in the evening with parents and stuff,” Martens said. “We’re just gonna do it pretty quick after school.”
Martens said she doesn’t know what her club will do during the meetings.
“It’s going to be very interesting on what we can’t do versus what we normally do,” Martens said. “We just won’t be able to do everything we’ve done in the past, that’s for sure.”
Spanish Honor Society member, Hannah Hawkins, also said she doesn’t know how the society will work.
“We have been completely left in the dark and so we’re a little bit lost right now,” Hawkins said. “I don’t think it’s 100 percent gonna be the same as it was in years past.”
Additionally, Martens said she also doesn’t like the change from in-person to online.
“I’m just sad we won’t be able to do what we normally do,” Martens said.
Likewise, Hawkins said she doesn’t like the society being totally virtual.
“It’s very difficult because there’s a barrier between [us],” she said. “There’s room for a lot of problems.”
Kay Service Club plans to continue meetings during the 2020-2021 school year even with COVID-19 restrictions. Teacher sponsor Linda Strieby said that club meetings are currently on zoom, but hopes to eventually be in-person.
“We’re hoping that perhaps either in the hybrid model or when everyone is back in school, we’ll be able to have in-person meetings, but they have to be socially distanced,” Strieby said.
Strieby said the club is awaiting confirmation from Superintendent Tonya Merrigan, who wrote in an email that clubs could meet during the hybrid format.
The club had its first all-member meeting on zoom Sept. 24. However, it was not the first time members of Kay Club had met this year. Strieby said that the leadership team, Julianne Zheng, Rhea Desai, and Raabia Qureshi, have been meeting during the summer.
Co-president Rhea Desai said that the club is working to make changes for this year, but she plans to participate in the club either way.
“Even though there are a lot of changes, we would still find a way to have our club and still do the things we do,” Desai said.
Desai said this year there is more work to manage the club because there are more changes being implemented in how the club functions. Desai said the club is changing its points system, how they hold meetings, and the projects they used to do every year.
“We have to change a lot, but I think [although] this year has been crazy, it’s all been working out so far,” Desai said. “Everyone knows we’re going to need some sort of changes, so we’re just trying to work through it and get as many opportunities as we can for our club.”
Strieby said the most significant change is the meeting times, which are now over zoom in the evening instead of in-person during Husky Halftime. This change was implemented due to an email Activities Director Andrew Addington sent out which stated that clubs cannot meet during advisory.
Strieby said that restrictions the club must follow definitely limit their service events, particularly off-campus. The club used to volunteer at Harvesters and Deanna Rose in the fall, but now are unable to attend any event off-campus, even while schools are in Hybrid learning. Strieby said that they hope the Overland Park Arboretum will be open later this fall so they can volunteer with the Luminary Walk once they are cleared to go to off-campus events. Strieby said that they are hoping to get back to recycling too, because it is in the building.
“We just have to wait for approval to do those things,” Strieby said. “Right now we have tentative approval to do service events here on campus once we are in at least hybrid mode.”
The Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) plans to continue meeting during the 2020-2021 school year while abiding by restrictions put in place in order to protect the health of students and staff. Teacher sponsor Meghan Trader said that for now, the club is planning to just continue with zoom meetings. She said an idea that they had thought about in the past was splitting up DECA into subcategories based on events or categories that students compete in, each with an officer conducting the meetings. Because of this, when the club meets in-person, it is in a much smaller group setting. Trader said typically DECA competitions have upwards of 600 or 700 students at it, so the usual format of the club will not work this year.
“The cool thing about zoom is that we can bring in adults who are in the business world who normally wouldn’t be able to meet with us during the day,” Trader said. “We can zoom them in to share a little bit about their job or answer any industry specific questions.”
Trader said that the officers typically meet at least once a month, and in busier seasons they might meet two to three times a month. She said this schedule will not be difficult to keep consistent because DECA does not have many all-club meetings and offers work sessions for students to practice before competitions.
Trader said the club has seven officers this year. She said last spring, the club was able to have a DECA banquet, zoom style, where the club was able to announce their new officers. Trader said having those leaders in place will make it an easier transition into this fall.
Trader said DECA had their first officer meeting on Sept. 28. She said that during the meeting, the club addressed what the club will look like going forward.
David Waxman, the president of DECA this year, said that the club did not plan to let COVID-19 get in the way of having meetings.
“We always thought that we could find a way to get around this by doing it through zoom or having masks required, but as of now we’re just working with other schools to see how we can do it,” Waxman said.
Waxman said they expect the club’s season registration to be pushed back due to COVID-19.
“In previous years we had a lot of club bonding activities such as ice cream socials and just getting together and meeting new people, but this year we’re going to have to avoid that due to social distancing,” Waxman said.
Waxman said that they are hoping to still do online zooms to get the new members involved.
Trader said that DECA is one of the biggest clubs at Northwest, so they want to ensure that they are still creating a space for students to be a part of it. However, she said the officers are still brainstorming what that looks like.
“Obviously this isn’t what anybody is hoping for,” Trader said. “We want to abide by the rules, and we want to follow the regulations because we don’t want to jeopardize our club at all.”
Trader said that DECA is a great way for students to get involved, learn more business skills and engage in critical thinking. She said there are many benefits that come with DECA; whether you are wanting to be in the business profession or not, there are a lot of great skills students can learn.
“So much of what DECA is, is the social aspect,” Trader said. “When we’re not having that in-person feel I do worry what that looks like for our numbers, but also just for the skills that students can miss out on.”
Black Student Union
The Black Student Union will continue to comply with COVID-19 restrictions by meeting virtually over Zoom on Tuesdays.
Club sponsor Matt Shulman said he doesn’t like to meet virtually because he initially got into teaching to help kids in person.
“Any time there’s any club you can’t meet in person, I think it’s going to be a little bit difficult, just having discussions and stuff like that.” he said.
Member and junior Amanda Godoy said she didn’t like having online meetings, but she was glad to see a higher participation within the club.
“It’s really hard online because we talk about pretty heavy-hitting topics,” Godoy said. “I feel like we have less people who are just coming in just to be in a club and more people who are there really ready to try to help solve problems.”
Shulman also said he’s noticed more passion in his students since the events of the summer and spring.
“There’s a lot of racial tension and issues going on in the world right now,” Schulman said. “I think whether we’re virtual, whether we’re in person, I think there’s still a lot of fire in some kids and some people.”
Seth Turner, a new Spanish teacher to the Blue Valley district, will be sponsoring Diversity Council this year instead of last year’s sponsor, Sarah Derks. All meetings will be held virtually over Zoom.
Turner said he doesn’t really know how to get new kids involved with the club, especially with the new restrictions.
“Right now, being a new teacher, I don’t know what the students were previously involved in with Diversity Council,” Turner said. “I’m just trying to meet the kids who want to be a part of the discussion of diversity and inclusion.”
Turner said he also finds the new restrictions discouraging because he feels like he can’t make a connection with his students over Zoom.
“It can be very frustrating because 90 percent of our job is engaging and interacting with [students], so not being able to do that face to face and in-person, it’s like you’re missing that emotional connection that you usually get,” Turner said.
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