Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - March 24, 2006

Club kids

Student clubs keep high school interesting

by Rebecca Guyon

Clubs have been a staple of high school campuses for almost as long as there have been high schools. Students are always looking for a place to have fun while at school, and clubs offer them the chance to meet friends and share common interests. With 30 clubs at Amador Valley High School and 46 at Foothill High School, most students are able to find a club that "fits." But, as student populations change with time, student interests change as well and each year there is a new batch of clubs started by students at both high schools.

"This year there were 14 new clubs," said Foothill Activities Secretary Patricia Smith. "That's pretty typical of the last couple of years. As our population grows and there is a more diverse student population, there is more interest in forming new clubs."

Foothill has seen an increase in technology-oriented clubs, such as a club where students play Digital Dance Revolution--a computer game where players follow dance steps on the screen--and a robotics club that recently won a local robotics competition. While technology clubs clearly reflect how computers have become enmeshed in our lives, Smith said that changes in cultural interests, growing diversity and current events can also prompt students to create new clubs that may not have existed five years ago.

"Latin Dance is something fairly new on the scene because of the diversity of the school and we also have a Muslim Student Association now," she said. "Support our Troops is a result of Iraq. It's not necessarily supporting the war, but supporting the people there."

Amador also has several new clubs each year. Some of this year's notable clubs include a new Flight Club where students learn about airplanes and flying and a Go Green club that promotes recycling on campus. There is also a new Fashion Club that hasn't quite gotten all of its paperwork in, but was recently awarded a Pleasanton Partnership In Education student grant to put on a fashion show showcasing dress code-appropriate clothes. Some clubs may be popular one year, lose membership the next year, and then come back based on current events. During election years, the Young Democrat and Young Republican clubs are very popular, said Jenni Kilroy, one of the three club commissioners in the Amador leadership class.

Starting a new club can be easier than most students think. The first step at both schools is finding a teacher adviser.

"Ultimately we want the clubs to be kid driven, that's an important part of it, but there's no doubt that club advisers play a big role in how active a club is," said Amador Vice-Principal Rick Sira who oversees club activities on campus.

In addition to finding an adviser, Amador students meet with Sira, who can help them find a faculty member who could be a good match for their club, and he answers any questions they may have. Once a student gets past the initial meeting, he then develops a club constitution that outlines the club's goals and sets the club's procedures, such as when it meets and how officers are elected. At this point, the student does not need other students to get established. After the constitution is written, the student and the adviser hold an informational meeting to see how many students are interested and then the club is off and running. Kilroy and fellow club commissioners Kristina Krause and Catherine Kennedy meet with each club's president during the course of the year and hold a monthly club council meeting to make sure all the clubs are running properly and offer any advice if needed.

Foothill students have to jump through a few more hoops before their club can get started. They also must first find a faculty adviser, but after that the student has to get 150 signatures from students on campus saying they agree that the club will serve a purpose. Once the signatures are collected and processed, the student and the adviser make a presentation to ASB student council members where they must answer why they want to start the club and how it will benefit the school.

"We want to make sure it's appropriate and that it's not infringing on the territory of another club," Smith said. If the club passes the ASB inspection, it can write up a constitution and get started meeting and fundraising.

Funding is another place the two high schools differ. Foothill does not provide funding for clubs, with the exception of the Multi-Cultural Club that puts on Multi-Cultural Week activities in conjunction with the ASB. Amador on the other hand provides each club with $100 to start.

While some students start new clubs, others are active in some of the larger, well-established clubs. At Amador, the Black Student Union is a well-known, popular club because it is very active on campus, Sira said. For the past few years the club has put on an assembly that looks at the issue of ethnic diversity and frequently invites students for lunches on campus. Community service-oriented groups, such as Interact Club, tend to be very popular, Kilroy said. In terms of numbers, the FISH Club, a non-denominational Christian club, is the largest at Amador, Sira said. Foothill also has large chapters of the FISH and Interact clubs, said Zac Walker, the Foothill ASB Secretary. The California Scholarship Federation is the largest club at Foothill, Walker said, while the Falcon Fan Club, a club that holds rallies and activities to get students "pumped up" before sporting events, is among the most visible.

"The clubs are so diverse," Smith said. "Truthfully, I think if a student is looking to join something on campus, I can't imagine that they couldn't find a fit with one of our clubs and sports."

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