Clubs Go Virtual for the 2020-2021 School Year

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As the 2020-2021 school year ensues, Townsend Harris reinstituted clubs on October 5 on a virtual platform. 

Coordinator of Student Activities Sarah Loew announced the return of clubs in an email to the student body. As usual, students are expected to join clubs in order to meet a club requirement. Ms. Loew wrote in the email, “Students need club credit to graduate with the Townsend Harris Honor Certificate and qualify for the honor societies like Arista and Archon.”

There are guidelines student club leaders must follow to manage clubs in a remote environment. To preserve security and privacy, students should complete an interest form for a club and wait to receive further details via email, allowing for links to virtual meetings to be protected. Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee said, “Clubs should all have advisors even virtually.” Advisors have a variety of responsibilities, such as facilitating the clubs and their finances. 

 Furthermore, Mrs. Fee stated, “Bake sales are virtually impossible, and so that method of fundraising won’t be happening much at all this year. This severely impacts the clubs’ finances. But on the other hand, virtual club meetings do not require as much funding, so costs will be down this year.” 

The conversion to a virtual platform has led to changes to school productions, clubs, and academic teams.

S!NG is one school production which has been heavily impacted. Freshior S!NG Overall Director Lisa Felson explained, “Without the ability to meet in person, many of the core parts of S!NG are unable to happen. Another large part of S!NG is the community, which will be hard to achieve virtually.”

President of the Steel Hawks robotics team Alex Muntean said, “Funding and retaining members are our two biggest concerns.” Alex explained that before the pandemic, the team would receive their funds from in-person fundraisers within the school such as selling coffee during zero band, but now that this is not possible with the adoption of remote learning, the Steel Hawks funds are expected to “take a significant hit.” He added that retaining members might also be a challenge due to the hands-on nature of the club: “When you think of robotics, you think of hands-on work. Obviously, we won’t be able to do that for at least half a year.” Nonetheless, the Steel Hawks’ board members and mentors are working closely with one another to create a plan that will help the team keep its current members and draw in other students that might be interested. 

Overall, “Clubs are what distinguish you from others,” said senior Rhea Parikh. Despite the transition to remote learning, students have shown that clubs are still in demand at Townsend Harris, even if they must be held virtually for the time being. 

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