by LAUREN RUESINK '18
It requires little imagination to think that starting a new club is a daunting task. This can be a dizzying process that often forces one to forsake her comfort zone as she advertises her idea to students, faculty, and staff with whom she has never once conversed. But ultimately, seeing that idea manifest into an exciting new club makes it worthwhile.
Getting the Club Approved
Passion for any topic, may it be an interest in mental health or Harry Potter, can turn into a club idea. The mere translation of this can be difficult enough, but it is only the beginning of the process of organizing a new club. What follows is paperwork and advertising. First the club must be approved by Ms. Durso. The student-entrepreneur explains on a document what the club is and what students would do at meetings, answering the basic driving question: is there a need for this club at SUA?
Once Ms. Durso approves, 20 signatures must be collected from the student body, and the leaders must find a faculty moderator. Ms. Utecht, the freshman-sophomore counselor, moderates senior Claire Weisbrod’s new club H.O.P.E. (Hold On, Pain Ends). H.O.P.E. Club, says Claire, “promotes mental health awareness and plans wellness events for the rest of the school.” Gathering signatures is “the hardest part” of forming a new club, recalls Morgan McGee ‘18, who rebooted the previously disbanded Harry Potter club, now known as Mischief Managed, a tribute to a line from the series. At first, Morgan “was worried that the club wouldn’t catch on” and there would not be enough student interest. Claire agrees, saying that she was “a little nervous that girls might not join because mental health might not be something that everything is passionate about like myself."
Julia Pucci ‘17, a co-founder of the new SUA on the Air Club, recalls how helpful her co-founder, Hannah Weadick ‘17 in reminding her that even if the group “may start off slow, [...] it has the potential to be a great club.” With faith in their ideas and hope that others would share their enthusiasm, these four girls went through all of these necessary steps, and all three clubs acquired the 20 signatures necessary to form their new club. Club and Organization Fair, which occurred in late August this year, would be instrumental to attracting new members.
Club Fair is a crucial chance to broadcast the new club, attract members, and make sure the it continues after the foundress graduates. It’s a perfect opportunity to “encourage students to join the club and talk about it with teachers,” says Claire.
The “recruitment process,” adds Morgan, “was so exciting because I was thinking, ‘This is really happening, Merlin’s beard!’” Indeed Club Fair presents the transition between a theoretical idea and a tangible club, to. set up a tri-fold on a table, beside displays for already established clubs like The Crest and Earth Club.
After Club Fair, a passion has turned into an idea, and that idea into a living, breathing community. At this point, the Club has stepped out from under just the founder’s influence and is open to all kinds of SUA students. But that’s possibly the most exciting thing about starting a new club: watching other students take it by the reins and push it to new bounds the foundress hadn’t even considered pursuing.
Since H.O.P.E. has become an “‘official’ club at SUA,” says Claire, “many students have come to me for ideas about the upcoming year.” Just recently, she organized a lunch-and-learn featuring guest speaker Laurie Stober, a Professional Clinical Counselor. Similarly, Julia and Hannah of SUA on the Air have coordinated their first, appropriately Halloween-themed radio show. Mischief Managed has also taken off: quite literally with a Quidditch Match at the first meeting, pitting Slytherins and Ravenclaws against the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs.
It is difficult to start a new club, but the relationships that the club creates and the skills the founding student learns make this experience invaluable. “If you ever have an idea, just run with it!” Julia says. Claire agrees, with the reminder to plan with a large group in mind.“There are so many people willing to help make it a reality,” adds Morgan, “You shouldn’t wait around for someone else to do it or think that no one will like it because odds are tons of other people have been dreaming about this club. It is so much fun and so worth it!”