Courtesy of Elyssa Shenker
As of the 2020-2021 school year, there are 157 active clubs at WCHS. Ranging from Kpop Dance Club to Women in Politics, there is truly a fit for every student. In a normal, in-person school year, it is difficult for students to establish new clubs. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is harder than ever.
Sophomore Elyssa Shenker has learned this while establishing the Purposefully Repurposed club. Along with co-presidents Jansen Levin and Zoe Rosenstock, Shenker aims to promote sustainability in every household through upcycling, or converting items of waste into items of higher value as opposed to converting them to reusable material. She aims to organize projects such as book drives, melting crayons down into new materials, and sending unused holiday cards to those in need.
“We were inspired last year by our science teacher and our club sponsor, Ms. Bewernitz, who ran a Greenhouse Club at the last school she taught at,” Shenker said. “I didn’t think that WCHS had anything that promoted upcycling so we decided to do it ourselves.”
Junior Torie Tran has also faced challenges while establishing Envelopes of Hope with fellow juniors Bella Mayr and Sophia Fettig.
“I wanted to make people happy, especially now. We write cards or letters and decorate them and then send them to different organizations each month,” Tran said. “This month we sent them to a children’s hospital.”
Rather than creating posters or explaining their club at a club fair, Shenker and Tran have both turned to social media in order to promote their clubs.
“We made an Instagram and a Google Classroom. It’s been relatively successful but it’s much harder to communicate with people,” Tran said.
In response to the challenges of students, administrators set up a virtual club day, in which they released a Google Form containing a list of clubs and videos about them including ways to get involved. However, students were underwhelmed by the results.
“No one really said anything about it. I know it’s hard. I guess there’s not much to do but I feel like they can always do more,” Tran said.
Shenker had trouble even accessing the information
“Even from my end, when I was in direct communication with the club coordinator, I thought it was difficult to find the club videos.” Shenker said.
Outreach is not the only issue that students have had trouble with. Shenker, who wanted to organize a book drive, has found it challenging to organize socially distanced and safe book drop offs.
“I think it’s really hard to collect things from members when we can’t see them in person. We need to coordinate a drop off space and that’s before we even find a space to set up,” Shenker said.
These challenges have forced other students to innovate. Tran, with the support of administration, set up a drop off box outside the WCHS main office. Newfound creativity has also allowed club leaders to find new ways to conduct meetings and other gatherings.
“We have meetings over Zoom for about 15 minutes. Our typical meeting is guidelines to make sure no one is writing anything inappropriate and to make sure people know where to drop off the cards. The work is mostly done outside of meetings,” Tran said.
Although the future is uncertain, leaders are doing what they can to stay optimistic and to keep up their work.
“It would be very fun to see everyone and work together. If that does happen it would be great and if not we would keep doing the same thing we’re doing now,” Tran said.