Despite distance learning, student clubs can hold virtual meetings, attract new members after virtual club rush

Clubs can meet via Zoom while meeting certain district and school regulations

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Brianna Zafra

The Alzheimer’s Awareness Club members promote their group during the 2019-2020 Club Rush at break. Because the new school year has started with distance learning instead of live instruction on campus, the ASB had to resort to a Google Slides presentation of clubs, which was posted on the school’s website Sept. 4.

Nevya Patel

Though not allowed to hold live, in-person meetings during distance learning, clubs have been given permission by school district officials to virtually gather on platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet outside of classroom hours.

In addition, club officers and members are expected to follow all school and district guidelines at all times when they meet as they should usually when students are on campus, said social science teacher Mike Paris, ASB co-adviser.

Clubs are an important part of life at Sunny Hills,” Paris said. “It is a way for students to feel more connected to school and to interact in a variety of ways.

Other guidelines that clubs must abide by include ensuring all off-campus activities or fundraisers are pre-approved by the ASB along with the advisers’ knowledge and consent, Paris  said.

He said that student officers also need to follow their clubs’ constitution and to submit an online notice — found under “Schedule a Club Meeting” on the school website under ASB — so the ASB would have a record of all club meetings.

Groups are also required to have their advisers present at any virtual meeting in which decisions on spending or fundraising are made, Paris said.

In the case that officers decide against holding meetings virtually during distance learning, it is possible that the club could be suspended, he said. But the ASB takes into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances and would hope the situation for that group changes as the year progresses.

For students who want to form a new organization, applications became available online on Aug 13 on the school website under “ASB.” 

Similar to previous years, students must find a teacher who would agree to serve as the adviser and take full responsibility of regulating the club’s activities — such as a fundraising or charity event — and ensuring the club follows the school and district procedures related to funds and meeting forms. 

Students must also complete an application and make a presentation about their proposal to the ASB within the first five-10 minutes of fifth period. 

“We always welcome new clubs as long as they are sincere in what they are doing and follow campus guidelines,” Paris said. 

After the first quarter, which ends on Oct. 9, no new clubs are allowed to be established at Sunny Hills.. 

Although students will have to resort to virtual club meetings, Science Olympiad co-adviser and science teacher Christopher Ghareebo holds an optimistic view of the opportunities this new format could provide.

“I love that we are trying to maintain clubs during distance learning because we can do it safely over Zoom, at least for our club,” Ghareebo said. “I am excited to take on the new challenges that distance learning will give us this year. We will be successful no matter what.”

Nevertheless, science teacher Alexander Hua, the other Science Olympiad co-adviser, sees some challenges about the upcoming year because of the coronavirus pandemic..

“I want to be excited about our amazing Science Olympiad team, but the future of competitions is very uncertain with COVID-19 being very prevalent in our country still,” said Hua, who is also the adviser of the Vitamanese Student Association and the Comic Book Club.

While the future of Science Olympiad seems uncertain for now, the team’s first meeting of the 2020-2021 school year took place Aug. 28 after school.

“The first meeting felt a little shaky with a lack of clear interaction with the new members over Zoom, but it was not so bad considering the circumstances,” Science Olympiad co-captain senior Vincent Le. “I think the beginning of the year with online competitions might be a hard transition for some, but eventually I hope we will be a cohesive and strong team by the end of the season.” 

Additionally, Hallelujah Club adviser Andrew Colomac has his own goals for the club as it will host its first meeting Sept. 14 during the Student Support and lunch periods. 

“It is a club dedicated to worshiping God and sharing the gospel of Jesus,” Colomac said. “So the continuation of those two are really the only goals I have for them.”

The link to club meetings can be found on the ASB website under “Upcoming Club Meetings.”

“I am excited to meet new people and, of course, our club members from last year because it is easier to meet through Zoom than in person,” said the Hallelujah club president, senior Esther Chae. “I am thankful that we are able to meet virtually and still connect.”

Senior Jenna Beining, president of Junior State of America [JSA], is looking forward to picking up where the group left off last semester, when it was holding virtual meetings as well after live classroom instruction changed into distance learning in mid-March..

“I am super excited about this semester’s upcoming meetings,” Beining said. “While the meetings will not be in person, hosting them virtually makes them more accessible to students, more convenient to attend and allows us to host more students than in a classroom setting.”

As an adjustment to the emergency distance learning last spring, JSA held regular meetings via Zoom, created a Google Classroom under the guidance of its adviser, social science teacher David Fenstermaker, to effectively send updates to members and held cabinet elections online, she said.

The JSA club meets on Fridays during the 30-minute lunch break with the Zoom meeting link available through its Remind stream, Google Classroom, Instagram and its 2020-2021 Club Rush Google slide, which is available on the Sunny Hills website until Sept. 11. 

“I have learned many things about virtual meetings, but I would say the most important is to recognize that people are more comfortable talking and commenting in smaller groups on Zoom rather than larger ones,” Beining said.