MD students create, attend new clubs


Naomi Yaeger, Staff Writer

Starting in October, clubs kicked off in the Middle Division (MD). Students from every grade have clamored to sign up for, attend, and even form their own clubs.

Clubs are an important part of the MD, MD Student Activities Coordinator Ofelia Marquez said. “Education is not just classes and books,” she said. “It’s also about learning empathy and how to interact with other people. Clubs and teams give that opportunity to students.”

After looking forward to clubs in the MD for years, Stella Burns (6) is ready to join every group she’s interested in. “Ever since I was a kid, I loved clubs. They excited me because they sound so fun,” she said. Burns is a new member of Readers Forum, Model UN, Parliamentary Debate, and is considering joining Dungeons & Dragons.

Clubs meet during D or E period from Monday through Friday, the MD lunch periods, and usually meet once or twice in the ten day cycle, Marquez said. “The middle schoolers have those 45 minute periods to play and be joyful,” she said. Clubs that need a longer meeting time and clubs run by Upper Division (UD) students, such as Public Forum Debate or Model UN, can meet after school from Monday through Thursday, she said.

One new club this year is the MD Stage Crew Club, which will meet Mondays after school starting in November. “There are a lot of kids in the Middle Division that are interested in theater and [are] really passionate about it, but are a little scared to be on stage,” Technical Director Caitie Miller said. “This is a chance for them to come and be part of it, and to help create our beautiful shows.”

The club will focus on building the props and sets needed for the MD Spring Production of “James and the Giant Peach,” meaning students will get the chance to paint, do carpentry, decorate, and possibly even learn lighting needed for the show, Miller said. “It’s going to be a chance for kids to come and get their hands dirty.”

Currently, the MD has 18 clubs that have started or plan to start in a few weeks, ranging from the Geography Club to the Readers’ Forum to the Ping Pong Club. Clubs can start and end at any point during the year, so this number will most likely change, Marquez said.

This flexibility allows students to be creative in creating their clubs, Marquez said. “The Soccer World Cup this year is going to be in November, as opposed to its usual time in the summer. We have a really awesome opportunity to create a [seasonal] World Cup club, where students are going to look at brackets and highlights of games.”

Clubs allow students to explore their interests outside of the classroom, Sanara Roeser (6) said. Roeser and Isabella Rivera (6) plan to start an Anime and Manga drawing club in the next few weeks, Roeser said. “We will talk about different styles of art and how to do them, and we’ll just have a fun time.”

Roeser and Rivera came up for the idea after they realized that they both liked drawing anime, Rivera said. “We just started talking more and more about drawing, and then, making a club was soon an idea in our minds,” she said.

To create a club, students submit the So You Want to Start a Club? form on the MD Student Life webpage. On the form, they share a description of their club, proposed meeting times, and potential faculty advisor(s). Marquez then reviews the form and meets with the students to discuss the logistics of their club, such as the materials they need, she said.

If a student who wants to start a club did not indicate an advisor on their form, Marquez works with them to find a faculty advisor who is interested in exploring that topic, she said. “Our teacher body and faculty staff is just so amazing — they always have this desire to say ‘yeah, I’ll totally sign up to be an advisor for this club,’” she said.

This year, Sarah Korn (8) founded the Sailing Club with a few friends, she said. “We’re not going to physically sail, at least not during school, so we’ll just teach them different components of sailing, like how to tie a knot,” she said. The club plans to meet once a week, during D or E period, she said.

When students start a club, they take the lead in creating lesson plans for each meeting, Marquez said. For example, to start the Dungeons & Dragons club, Max Khankin (7) found his own club advisor, Seventh Grade Dean Michelle Amilicia, who runs the club’s meetings, Marquez said.

There are many benefits to joining clubs, Katherine Zhu (6) said. “Clubs are more free — it’s less of a teacher speaking, and more about student debating and discussing topics.”

Zhu is a member of over five clubs, ranging from Model UN to Rocketeers, a science club started by students. “When I grow up, I want to be an astrophysicist and I want to have some experience, thus Rocketeers,” she said. “I joined Parli, Model UN, and Public Forum because I really enjoy debate.”

Generally, students can just show up to a club they are interested in attending, Marquez said. For others, such as Parliamentary Forum or HM Lead, students have to fill out a short application, she said.

Sixth graders won’t be able to join the Parliamentary Debate until the spring, history teacher and advisor John Eckels said. “Traditionally, Public Forum didn’t have sixth graders, at least not until after spring break,” he said. While this changed a couple of years ago, it wasn’t possible this year because the club only has one advisor, instead of the regular two, Eckels said. 

The club focuses on teaching MD students debate skills in a less competitive setting, Eckels said. “Our league is a learning league, and so, it is competitive and there are good debaters, but it’s not all about who wins. It’s about learning the skills, celebrating that you’re there,” he said. “Our goal is always to create a community atmosphere.”

Burns appreciates having a mix of classes and clubs because they serve different purposes, she said. “Class time covers many different topics, like in math, you learn about this times this or this equals this,” she said. Clubs, on the other hand, allow students to focus on one topic they are interested in a low pressure environment.