Clubs Resume in Person
by Eva Mandelbaum
From Advocates for The Earth to The Orange, there is no doubt that the range of unique and inclusive clubs are the heart and soul of White Plains High School. Each club at WPHS serves as an safe space for all, and clubs provide a place where creativity and ideas can flourish. When in-person clubs were swapped for virtual in January, many students were devastated that the highlight of their school days had been torn away. Thankfully, as of early February, clubs are back in person!
With millions of cases overcoming the state, country, and world, COVID-19 was as prevalent as ever during the post-winter break surge. The horror of the pandemic is the reason for the cancellation of in-person clubs, and this is understandable. After all, the safety of the members of the WPHS community is a priority. Principal Martinez explains, “During the surge, the approach in consultation of our district Health Services Department was to minimize necessary meetings. So it wasn’t about numbers, but rather unnecessary exposures.”
Collaborating with peers becomes a challenge when done from behind a screen, and there is nothing quite like conversing with peers and advisors at clubs. Humans are innately social beings and switching clubs to virtual platforms strips students from many valuable social interactions that are beneficial for their mental health. Sabrina Mondschein, a WPHS Sophomore, shares her opinion. “In person club meetings are valuable because they provide a space where you can go with your friends and do activities in something you’re interested in or enjoy doing,” she explains. “They also provide a fun socializing aspect to students.”
Principal Martinez agrees. “We have realized through this pandemic that in-person anything is always better for all of us. Human contact even by proximity is good for our well-being,” he shares.
One WPHS student, Jackson Bourgeois, shares his view on the subject. “I think going to my club was definitely one of the safer parts of my day!” he emphasizes. “It had way less people than most of my classes and was a great way to interact with my friends.”
Clubs create a safe space where students can express themselves socially and emotionally, and unfortunately, many students were unable to have this experience when clubs were virtual. “I have found that virtual club meetings are a lot less productive, and less members show up due to other commitments after school,” another student, Leah Dennis, shares. Between sports, jobs, and caring for younger family members, many students have commitments that prevent them from attending clubs when they meet virtually and after school.
Leah also feels that “a big part of clubs is the social aspect and getting to work together for a common interest or goal.” Amber Lau, another student, shares similar views. “In person clubs are valuable because they allow students to interact with people in different grades and others not in any of their classes,” she explains.
Gianna Priore, a WPHS sophomore, shares her passion for in-person clubs, noting that “being a part of a team you can connect with is a great learning opportunity for students at WPHS.” She adds, “Unfortunately, moving the clubs to after school has affected many of us...with sports being held after school and many of our club members being athletes, it’s almost impossible to join after school Zoom meetings. I felt having clubs at lunch was easier to accommodate with our schedule and created balance between eating, socializing, and learning.”
The overwhelming consensus among WPHS students is that in-person clubs provide the sense of community, safety, and normalcy that the entire student body has been needing. As a final thought Principal Martinez shares, “Our clubs are part of the fabric of WPHS, and we are committed to ensuring their accessibility to our Tigers as much as possible, that is why we [had] virtual meetings as an alternative in order to maintain continuity during times such as January.” Now that clubs are back in person, members of the WPHS Community are hoping that they are here to stay!