Coming Together While Staying Apart—Fall Clubs at Franklin

With all the focus on how to effectively move academics online, we can lose sight of Franklin’s many clubs, which are also struggling to find ways to make their groups work this fall. From Red Cross Club to Quidditch Club, each has to figure out how to bring people together, during a time when we need to stay apart. 

Many clubs do important work, helping people around the community and giving students opportunities to volunteer and have their voices heard. Key Club, every other Friday, promotes ways that members can help around the community, according to club Vice President Kiara Surban. “We want to provide opportunities for others to engage in community service as well as improve leadership and social skills,” she says. They also use a tool that seems to be pretty popular with club leaders: Kahoot, an online quiz platform that has been popular in schools for years. 

“[This year,] activities will clearly have to be different but we will probably do Kahoots,” says Lilah Maclowry, a leader of the Jewish Student Union (JSU). While JSU has not begun meetings, they are looking forward to celebrating and educating the community about Jewish holidays. “It’s important to us to have JSU because we provide a welcoming and inclusive community for Jewish students (and non Jewish students).”

Another club that creates a community for students is the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, formerly the Queer Straight Aliance (SAGA/QSA). “Some of our biggest challenges right now are recruiting new members and replicating the atmosphere of our in-person club,” says Miranda Phinney of SAGA. “When clubs are in person, people are able to talk amongst themselves more, and have smaller group conversations that aren’t really possible in a virtual meeting. It’s also hard to draw in new people. For one, it’s a lot more out of the way to attend a virtual club. When you’re at school you have to eat lunch somewhere, so why not go to a club?” One helpful tool for SAGA, as well as other clubs, has been Franklin’s Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, or SUN, program. In September, it held a virtual club fair to showcase every club at Franklin. If you missed it and want information on a club, chances are you’ll find it on SUN’s Instagram page, where there are posts and story highlights about a lot of clubs. 

Because of the four-by-four schedule, some classes that need to operate year round are choosing to become clubs for a semester (the Franklin Post will do so next semester). This semester, Yearbook is registered as a club. “Yearbook students have the opportunity to volunteer their time to the yearbook before our class even gets started,” says Adam Souza, Yearbook teacher at Franklin. He hopes this system is successful, given the importance of a yearbook. “A yearbook is a historical document … You can’t see the same things while scrolling through social media.”

Clubs can make a difference, but they can also make for a simple and fun afternoon or lunch break. Two clubs at Franklin in particular embody this philosophy of what clubs are for: Quidditch Club and Trivia Club. 

Trivia Club, though it started last year, made an impression because of its lively atmosphere and candy prizes. During a time when neither of those can be easily achieved, the club is using Kahoot to keep up the fun, and keep to a short time frame. Luke Johnston, the trivia master himself, says “a lot of people including myself had fun doing it last year and I thought it would be a great way to be social and safe this year, as well as to help keep a sense of school community while so many of us are distanced from each other.”

Another club that’s here to have some fun is Quidditch Club. As a club created to play a sport (which does exist, even though it’s from Harry Potter), it faces challenges going virtual. “It’s hard because … we usually do things that require us to be in the same space as each other which is not possible,” says Michael Bareno-Lee, founder and leader. But they’re making do, and have a pretty consistent meeting agenda: “Imagine 8 nerds discussing nerdy stuff for 45 minutes.”

Arguably, the most important practice this fall is mindfulness. Quintana Jones, the leader of Mindfulness Club, encourages meditation to put things in perspective; “Learning about meditation has encouraged me to take a breath before I freak out, and to allow myself room to have a bad day.” Because Mindfulness is no longer offered as a class, Jones started it as a club, which focuses on meditation and building community.

Clubs this year face Zoom time limits, mute buttons, and screen fatigue, but creative and thoughtful leaders have found ways to make change, fun, and community. If you’d like to join a club in this article, you can find them on Instagram or the SUN page on Franklin’s website. If you want to start a club, find a teacher to sponsor it and fill out the club charter

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