School clubs adapt in a socially distant world

Brooke Scanlon

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Elizabeth Perston

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Clubs at Baldwin High school are starting again but the new restrictions have changed their meetings.

Photo via BHS Activities Council

Clubs at Baldwin High school are starting again but the new restrictions have changed their meetings.

At a typical German Club meeting, German teacher Scott Hindman’s classroom would be full of students playing games and participating in potlucks. But this year, meetings for the German Club, and for many other clubs at Baldwin, will be quite different.

One issue is that students at any in-school club meetings would still need to maintain six feet of separation for social distancing and wear masks.

But the changed start times for club meetings is another issue. Normally clubs meet right at the end of eighth period. This year, though, the student day ends at 1:45 p.m., but the teacher day goes to 3 p.m., so teachers can communicate with remote learners and parents. This means that the earliest a club can meet is 3 p.m., long after students have gone home.

This poses a challenge for language clubs especially, which often feature parties and activities for club members.

German Club officers and their sponsor, German teacher Scott Hindman, have come up with a plan to keep the club going while still following COVID-19 measures.

“Our solution is to have two separate meetings, instead of one,” Hindman said. “This will keep the numbers down and keep the risk of contamination low.”

Hindman said German Club students in Group 1 would attend a 3 p.m. meeting on a Group 1 day, and Group 2 students would attend a different meeting at 3 p.m. on one of their days. Hindman hopes the plan works for everyone, no matter which days students attend school.

“Our method would not force someone who does not come to school on those days to come in just for a club meeting,” Hindman said.

German Club President Juliana Fedorko is working to ensure the club is just as fun as always.

Things will definitely be different, but I think this could still be a really good year. We’re all working really hard to find new ideas to keep it interesting.

— Juliana Fedorko

Baldwin’s Best Buddies program also has some changes in store for this year. Sponsor Eric Jankoski already has ideas for how the club will take place amid COVID-19 regulations.

“Basically, we are making our club virtual,” Jankoski said.

Previously Best Buddies was a mixture of in-school activities and student “buddy” pairs hanging out on their own time. For the time being, participants will have to interact through virtual means.

“Whether our buddies are playing together online via their Xbox, or just having virtual lunch with each other, we still find ways for our club members to engage with one another,” Jankoski said.

Jankoski said the new circumstances will take some getting used to this year, but he still feels optimistic about the future.

“I’m adopting a motto this year: Even though our events will be virtual, our friendships will not be,” Jankoski said.

Spanish teacher Rebecca Michalski is the sponsor of both the Spanish Club and the Diversity Club.

“For now, the majority of meetings for both clubs will be virtual in order to accommodate all students in a safe way,” Michalski said.

Social distancing requirements will affect her clubs in different ways, she said.

“While Spanish Club normally celebrates several holidays each year, we will have to hold off on our traditional fiestas for at least the first quarter of the year,” Michalski said. “The celebration that we will miss the most is Day of the Dead, when we decorate sugar skulls and eat traditional snacks.”

In addition to regular club meetings, the Diversity Club usually participates in activities outside of school, including the Pride Parade and the “Hockey is for everyone” Penguins game.

“This year will probably look very different,” she said of those events. “But we will make the best of it.”

Choir teacher and Baldwinaires sponsor Kris Tranter had to make major modifications to this year’s Baldiwnaires audition process.

In previous years, students were recorded singing “The Star Spangled Banner” while in school. This year, Baldwinaires hopefuls are auditioning through a video sharing app called Flipgrid.

To be consistent with previous years, audition videos will be sent to anonymous judges for review.

As far as performances go, Tranter plans on having a virtual winter concert for both choir and Baldwinaires. As for the annual spring performance, Tranter hopes that it will be a live concert.

As Hindman said, even though this year will have changes, they do not have to negatively impact the year for clubs.

“It is going to be different to run the clubs this year,” Hindman said. ‘Being positive and dealing with it rather than complaining is going to be key.’