Clubs back in full swing


Submitted Photo

After a year online, Model UN, and many other clubs at the high school, finally got to meet in person again.

After school ends, rooms across the school fill in with students pouring to see one another. They sit as if they were in class, but instead of the typical learning, they are having fun and enjoying the company of other students. Some students even lead discussions with their peers.

That is what defines the return of in-person club meetings.

A year ago, every single club had no choice but to host meetings virtually. Last year, presidents of some of the largest clubs at North Penn High School faced many new challenges when leading their members.

“Last year, kids had their cameras off, and we didn’t know what they looked like. We heard their voice now and then, but we didn’t know our new member that well,” Ritvik Venkat, President of Model United Nations said.

With this in mind, clubs were less interactive than many had hoped. Social interaction was not present.

“The biggest thing I noticed was that it was really hard to get people to interact with each other. It makes people nervous to have conversations. Unless you already knew somebody, it was really hard to get to know new people, which is an integral part of our club,” Venkat said.

However, the return to in-person schooling has shifted the dynamic back. With clubs now allowed to meet in person after school or during Knight Time, students are starting to enjoy festivities and time together. Nervousness still happens, but kids are starting to break out of their COVID-19 shells and voice themselves in ways that seemed forgotten in the past 18 months.

“From a few mock debates we had, I have seen that people are getting to know each other a lot more. Friendships are forming and people sharing ideas, which is helping us get back what we missed last year. We are seeing members grow and foster a desire to learn and debate,” Venkat said.

These values are shared in other clubs at the high school. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) discovered similar experiences throughout their club meetings. Their struggles are turning around.

“Last year was so hard for everyone. The interactions and connections were all cut out. While I feel pressured, I am looking forward to meeting and helping people. It was challenging when I stepped into the club, and I think I can help take action and be a good leader,” Lucy Lee, Co-President of FBLA, said.

FBLA is moving forward with a positive attitude. New outlooks that bring back old opportunities allow FBLA to commit to their members to their fullest extent.

“Our club is working to be more interactive than last, like giving feedback on presentations and the return to competitions,” Lee said.

Yet not every club is returning to the way it once was. Female Authors Book Club (FABC) started last school year during the midst of COVID. Everyone in that club, from the adviser to the presidents to the members, experienced meetings on a virtual platform only. Before this school year, they had never met in-person.

“Starting virtually was definitely a challenge because it did make it hard for us to have a larger audience. Our club is discussion-based, and it was hard for us to get people to talk. Conversations were dominated by just a few people,”  Julia Shin, Co-President of FABC, said.

Now, the club is in person for the first time, and the camaraderie between members is on full display. Analysis, new perspectives, and engagement all increased.

“[The connection] is a lot stronger. This year we have a lot of sophomores, juniors, and seniors with interesting perspectives whereas last year we only had juniors. A lot of them presented unique ideas to our discussions and made it feel more personal,” Caroline Guo, the other Co-President of FABC said.

The club also had the chance to expand its opportunities and offerings to members. These new opportunities include writing stories, poetry, listening to these female authors, movies, and other topics related to the club.

“Before we talked about the reading in general, which contributed to the awkwardness. Now, we added in-person activities in games to help people get to know each other, both of which couldn’t be achieved virtually,” Guo added.

As in-person meetings slowly become the norm again, leaders of clubs realized the importance of in-person meetings. A greater appreciation of school and social life came to many presidents at North Penn High School, and sophomores and juniors are getting to experience North Penn at its fullest.