Three years ago, during the break between second and third period, the halls of the Upper School were quiet. During this 45-minute break, students would flock to a diverse array of clubs led by their peers. Whether it was to discuss a shared interest in Jeeps, or explore the world of palmistry, students from all four grades took advantage of bagel break to delve into new passions while meeting new students with shared interests across all grade levels. Students were genuinely excited and interested about what club leaders had in store for them each day.
Today, club turnout is minimal. With the exception of a few, clubs have ceased to meet regularly these past few years due to either a lack of leadership or student turnout.
With the daily schedule change that went into place at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, clubs intended to meet before school.. But when given the opportunity to either go to clubs or sleep in an extra half an hour, most students chose to sleep, and understandably so. It was naïve to think students would do otherwise.
To remedy the ailing club turnout of the 2015-16 school year, club time moved to lunch. But when given the opportunity to either go to clubs or spend time with their friends and take a break to eat, most students have chosen the latter.
There needs to be a time built into the day where we can learn from each other in a non-traditional classroom setting. Clubs do just that, and it’s worrisome to see their deterioration right before our eyes.
In order to increase club turnout, we need to incentivize going to clubs and find ways to show students the merits of club participation. We should encourage everyone to go to the club fair at the beginning of the year-not just freshmen-and more clubs should be eligible for community service hours. And, since no one has time to read all the mass emails, clubs need alternative advertising techniques such as the bulletin boards scattered around the Upper School.
We need to change the timing of clubs; lunch does not provide an adequate amount of time and students want to spend this free time with people other than their friends. We should have two days each rotation where we start school 20 minutes earlier, at 8:20 as opposed to 8:40. These 20 minutes gained from the earlier start combined with the 20 minutes bagel break would provide an adequate amount of time for clubs to meet.
As clubs die, so does an essential part of the uniqueness and individuality of the Greenhill Upper School. When we stop going to clubs, we stop encouraging each other to share our passions, no matter how weird or quirky they are. By going to clubs, we expose ourselves to a range of different ideas and beliefs and make friends from different parts of campus. Clubs give our school a much needed vibrancy that adds excitement to the school day and raises student morale across campus. It would be a shame to see them go under on our watch.
Originally published in the December 2017 issue