School Clubs

By Sharon Naylor

June 11, 2010 5 min read

When a high-school senior in East Hanover, N.J., asked the band director whether she could start a flag squad group to join in the band's halftime performances, she had no idea that her fledgling group of students in white button-down shirts and black skirts -- with yellow ribbon trim sewn onto the skirts by her mother -- would begin a tradition that would lead to more than 20 years of regional, state and national award-winning flag squads. Five years later, the flag squad she founded was featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And a year after that, the school invited a professional drum and bugle corps member to be the new coach. That student's inspired idea blossomed into a tradition of pride for the school, and with the credit "Founder of Flag Squad" on her activities list, she won a scholarship and got into her dream college. Indeed, founding and running a club is a gold star on a high-school student's list of accomplishments, and some founders even are featured in magazines and on television news. With private high school and college admissions being so competitive, this credit can elevate a student over other candidates. Motivated students who are natural leaders are now founding their own clubs at school as a way to build their own pathways to success. It's not just achievement that encourages club founding. Many students who have founded such clubs as skateboard clubs, environmental clubs, anim? clubs, book groups and others say they did so because there were no other clubs at school that interested them. With many schools losing funding for extracurricular activities, it's become the students' grass-roots campaigns and unique ideas for fund-free groups that bring compelling special interest clubs into their high schools. Even without a school system's thousands of dollars in support for arts and interest programs, these clubs keep popping up in the ultimate show of the teen generation's power to create and to keep a club thriving. How do you start a new club in school? We have the seven essential steps for founding an official, recognized special interest club: 1. First, come up with an original, popular idea. Consider the clubs the school already offers so that you're not competing with an existing group, and also look at the different community clubs run by churches and synagogues or by youth groups in your area to make sure you're not encroaching on anyone else's concept or siphoning away any other club's members. Then make a list of the possible new groups you could start, asking your friends about which types of clubs they would join if such clubs existed. Very often, students know what they'd like to do; the club just doesn't exist yet. 2. Gather a few founding members, asking your friends to join you as you work to create a new club at school. When you get to one of the most essential steps -- approaching the faculty for permission to start your group -- you can show that you're serious and that other students would join you by providing a list of your friends who are already on board. 3. Further preparing to meet with faculty, plan out the foundations of your club: How often will you meet? Once a week? Twice a month? Where will you meet? In the cafeteria? In a classroom? When will you meet? After school? Before school? What are your club's goals? You may decide to add a fundraising element to your club -- for instance, with the hiking club signing on to a charity 5k at the end of the school year. These details put in print will show the faculty and the school board, again, that you're serious about starting a quality club. 4. Next, recruit a faculty adviser. Most school boards require clubs to have teachers or coaches overseeing their meetings and making sure that they adhere to bylaws and rules about school-sanctioned groups. The school board likely has a thick file of forms for you and your parents to sign, absolving it of any legal responsibilities if someone were to, say, break a toe at skateboard club. 5. Be aware that your school may say no. Sadly, we do live in a legal-minded and legal-scared society, and your school may not have the insurance needed to cover your club. So cover your bases and show the advisers that you're ready to run a quality club, with your faculty adviser, and that you won't require a massive outlay of funds to do so. 6. Establish your plan to raise the money you will need to make signs to attract new members, to acquire supplies and for any other expenses. A carwash or bake sale probably could raise the money you need. 7. Once you get the green light from the school board and your school's faculty, you're all set to begin your club -- electing officers with a vote, establishing your goals and rules, and welcoming new members to your group so that you all can enjoy the club -- and maybe get that golden credit that lands you a scholarship and an open door to your dream college.COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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