By Melissa Domingo
Clubs at Summit Shasta are often inactive or have little to no members, and club leaders have expressed concerns over the lack of attendance. Some members of the 40 clubs Shasta offers also report feeling as if these groups are too focused on cliques and friend groups.
Club leaders, like Shasta junior Abby Wong, who heads Coding Club, shared their frustrations about this: she mentioned that eight or nine people signed up, but attendance has been lacking because members might have thought that coding was “a little too hard for them.” She also said that “some of them stayed except that they didn’t code at all, no matter how many times I urged them to, so, yeah.”
Coding Club, in Wong’s eyes, has shifted its goal — instead of learning how to code, it’s become a place to unwind: “Probably the end goal of the club is to, like, you know, have fun.” Wong also said Coding Club has become a place for people to “hang out” and “talk about coding.” She continued by saying, “It’s more like a hangout place.”
She hopes that she’ll be able to get their “trust and that sort of thing and make them more comfortable. I can eventually encourage them to start coding, like, maybe showing them a video game that I coded or something like that.”
Wong also shared about her experiences in other clubs: she said that she also participates in Musical Theatre Club and GSA Club.
Wong admitted that she joined Musical Theatre Club because her friend was the leader. “She needed more members, and I didn’t have much time to hang out with her a lot because, like, schoolwork and stuff,” Wong explained. She found that Musical Theatre Club was a place that she could relax with her friends.
Wong also talked about the dynamic that occurs in GSA Club: “I feel like GSA has gone really off topic … through the weeks.” She explained that GSA Club previously only focused on LGBTQ issues; but recently, “it just has broadened into, like, everything, like, talk about school and that sort of thing.”
Though, Wong appreciates the support she is able to give and receive in the club, “GSA is basically just casual talk. We don’t do that much there. It’s just like talking, but you still have that community — if you’re going through, like, bad stuff and you really want to talk to someone … there’s plenty of people there.” She believes that GSA is a great support system, and she’s able to talk to the members about her problems both at home or at school.
Another club leader, Shasta junior Evelyn Ho, talks about her experiences as the leader of Red Cross Club: “First, I was like, really nervous, leading the club. I just didn’t know, like, how it’s gonna go since it was my first time. But, I think I’ve gotten more used to it.”
In the Red Cross Club, they talk about disaster preparedness and host blood drives at Shasta. They are also able to participate in volunteer opportunities. Ho explained that the club participated in Fleet Week, when she and the members taught the general public about fire safety and earthquake safety.
During the club fair that Shasta holds every year, Ho said around 40 people signed up. Though she said attendance has since dropped, “I feel, like, less people come than at the beginning, but it’s, like, mainly juniors and, sometimes sophomores, but I guess there’s Leadership, and there’s also Service Club. So I know some people can’t go sometimes.”
Ho then talked about the clubs that she’s also a part of: Neurodiversity Club and Social Justice Club: she finds the clubs very educational, especially about neuro diversities and mental disorders. Though Social Justice Club hasn’t met as often as she wanted, “it is nice because we get to, like, learn about things that are happening to, like, real people and how we can help them.”
Shasta senior David Sanchez spoke about his experiences in the clubs he’s in, and he said that he joined clubs because of his friends, though he also wanted to be part of something that could “make Shasta a better place.”
He expanded, by saying, “I was kind of like, dragged into them by people. It was something that I really wasn’t big on, like, something I just want to get into because clubs like, aren’t really my thing. But I also did it, just like, for fun and also because, like, I guess, having clubs listed on your, like, your college applications would also look good.”
Sanchez admitted that he was unsure whether he would have joined these clubs if his friends hadn’t asked him to join. He said that he joined Social Justice Club because he liked “learning about problems and things like that. Like, finding ways to help support people that are in need because that’s, like, part of what we do in that club too. That’s something big, personally for me, because I like to help others, things like that.”
Sanchez then said that it’s up to the student to join a club: he said that joining clubs “helps you figure out what type of person you are, and what things you’re into. So, like, for people in Shasta, I would encourage them, but if they don’t like it, you know, I wouldn’t force anyone to do it.”
Other Shasta students expressed that they weren’t fond of clubs, Shasta sophomore Michael Titus expressed that he “joined two clubs and they weren’t very enjoyable.” He also said “I felt that they weren’t very interactive, like, and like though through; they kind of just seemed like they were just made for a specific friend group.” After joining Anime Club and Video Game Club, he said, “I felt like I wasn’t wanted there and, like, not part of the group, so I just stopped going and they didn’t even like send emails like, ‘Hey, you haven’t been showing up.’ It’s like, they just didn’t care.”
Though he did say “if I found a club that had the right people in it, and then I believe, really were passionate about the club that they made, and, or they were in, I’d definitely consider joining.” He also said, “I think it’s very good to be in a club just so you’re not always 100% of the time focused on school, but you definitely should take time and consideration until you decide on a club to join.”
AJ Munar, another Shasta sophomore, expressed his dislike for clubs: “Last year, I had Anime Club and Video Game Club, and it was very boring and I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done. And I could spend more time doing something that’s more productive.”
Though, Shasta senior Peter Chan, one of the co-leaders of Anime Club said companionship is something that he can see “relatively well.” He then went on and said that sometimes even kids who don’t talk to each other often, are able to interact freely in the club, “Personally for me, when it comes to kids that don’t talk to each other a lot, I see that as a big step, because if you don’t talk to this one kid … and then all of a sudden, you’re joking around, you know, bumping elbows and laughing and it’s very positive. The other thing is that it doesn’t happen too much. But when it does happen, it’s obvious and it’s very positive.”
Chan also said that the end goal for the club is to be able to have a space where club members are able to relax and unwind, while watching anime. He said, “We just, like, loved hanging out and goofing off with friends and, you know, making friends and, like, I made a good chunk of my friends in that club.”
He said, “We just, like, loved hanging out and goofing off with friends and, you know, making friends and, like, I made a good chunk of my friends in that club.” He then went on and said, “You know, you kind of just get to horse around and relax.”
Students at Shasta have expressed their opinions on clubs, sometimes they’re too focused on friend groups. Though, Shasta Dean of Culture and Instruction Adelaide Giornelli said, “Yeah, that’s a bummer to hear. But it’s also not super surprising.”
She expanded by saying, “Like, it takes people with a lot of social confidence and social skills to integrate those people into the conversation and I would hope that people are willing to try it, but being a teenager is really hard sometimes you don’t have those skills yet.”
She closed by saying, “I love that they’re student-run, I think that’s really important. And I think our teachers are doing so much work to like, give feedback, plan lessons, like their focus has to be on teaching. But, I sometimes wonder if having an adult in the room might make it easier because then it’s hard when like, your friends are all here and there’s maybe one or two kids who aren’t your friends.”
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Students at Shasta roam around the campus during lunch time. PHOTO CREDIT: Melissa Domingo