As students adjust to remote learning, Boston Latin School clubs have been exploring ways to operate effectively in a socially distanced manner.
With restrictions on in-person gatherings, clubs share the concern of retaining membership engagement and making the experience as similar to normal as possible. Leaders of more interactive clubs, such as those of the Video Game Development (GameDev) Club, are looking into utilizing Zoom’s built-in features, such as breakout rooms, as well as a club Discord server to imitate pre-quarantine meetings and bridge the disconnect that comes with a remote setting.
“Since all of our activities were already on computers, most of what we do will be the same, if club members need help they can use Zoom’s screen share feature,” said Arthur Koehrsen (I) and David Van Hise (I), co-presidents of GameDev. “Normally we hover around and assist over people’s shoulders, and that model of overcoming individual problems or questions as they arise should fit the Zoom format.”
Meanwhile, other clubs expect to make more use of social media and bringing in guest speakers to publicize the club and interact with members. With nearly all activities being based online, it will be easier for speakers outside of BLS to join virtual meetings and talk about what they do.
Isabelle Goodrich (I), president of BLS Writes, reveals that they will publish student work and host guest speakers like the Youth Poet Laureate of Boston. The club hopes to gain a larger following by hosting Friday Flex sessions and school-wide events through a partnership with the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective.
“Part of BLS Writes is trying to integrate creative writing within the BLS community because we feel it isn’t prevalent enough, and we want to promote an awareness of it,” Goodrich said.
Clubs centered on volunteer work and fundraising, such as the BLS World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Classique, have specific struggles with the logistics of such.
In BLS WWF’s case, they must be creative in interpreting their mission statement. “Fundraising events that we were hoping to do annually simply can’t happen because […] we’re not physically in school. Since everything is virtual now, we were planning on posting more on social media to raise awareness and get more engagement from our members,” says co-president Emily Mai Chen (II).
The club also plans on hosting more events to boost member engagement such as gift-card giveaways and movie nights.
BLS Classique is also in an unique situation in that their main club activities include live musical performances for the elderly in nursing homes, who are among those high-risk for COVID-19. Despite these challenges, the students of the club still want to provide a source of entertainment and build bridges between youth and the elderly community in a new format.
President Graciela Berman-Reinhardt (I) comments on their solution, “This year, we are accepting video submissions from musicians, singers and dancers […] for the residents to watch at their leisure.”
The club also plans to have performers give short introductions about themselves and their performances to add a personalized touch, which is especially important because they are not visiting in person.
During a time that can be isolating and detrimental to one’s mental health, Gian Martinez (I), Vice President of the Mental Health Awareness Club, stresses their role in the school community.
“It is understandable if students feel stressed […] We will actively provide our members with resources and information on things like stress management, coping and utilizing support systems,” said Martinez.
With meetings every other Friday Flex and Tuesday afternoon, students are encouraged to step into a meeting for any peer support they need.
During the week of October 19, BLS will host its virtual Extracurricular Activities Fair where students, both new and returning, will be able to join clubs. Although limited by COVID-19 guidelines this year, BLS clubs are all working to make adjustments and continue to run their activities successfully and safely.