Dear future members of *Insert Club Here*,
Have you ever looked at the lengthy list of Pine View’s clubs and organizations and said to yourself, “why don’t we have *Insert Club Here*.” No, just me?
If you know me well enough, you probably know I like to get involved. I like to say that sleep is one of my extracurriculars that I always end up missing out on. And what could be getting more involved than starting something from the ground up?
So yeah, I’ve started a few clubs. Which automatically makes me an expert…said no one ever. And I’ve learned a few things from my own successors and failures, things that I would like to share with anyone interested in starting a club at Pine View. So, if you’re still interested, here’s my advice to future club starters and members of *insert club here*:
Don’t start a club just for the resume. I know it’s tempting, especially in such a hyper-competitive environment like Pine View. Founder of a club sounds pretty awesome on a college or scholarship application. But running a club is more than just having a fancy name. It’s a lot of work, especially if you are building something from scratch, and is not for the faint of heart. If you are truly committed to improving the Pine View community, starting a club is for you. If you just want it for the name recognition (I’m President of Invisibility Club, that’s why there is no one here), then it might not be your best option.
Every time I wanted to start a club, I asked myself a couple of questions. Some key ones that I recommend you consider are “does a club similar to this already exist?” (because why have two of the same thing when you could do more if you combined your efforts), “what is the need for this club at Pine View?”, “how will this club accomplish its major goals?”, and “who is likely to join this club”. These are also, evidently, similar to the questions you will have to answer in the club application, which I’ll talk about later.
Find an awesome teacher sponsor. A club is only as strong as its leadership. It is critical for new clubs to have a strong teacher sponsor, especially someone who really wants to see your club succeed. Their involvement is one of the things that will make sure that your club survives once you graduate. Sponsors are also important for a bunch of other reasons that you wouldn’t normally realize, from paperwork to finances (trust me, you want your sponsor to handle that). Your sponsor also becomes your best friend, especially since you will be spending a lot of time together
On finding a sponsor, look for teachers that you have had that you have gotten to know outside of class. These teachers will be more willing to take on your club if you have time in your schedule. If all else fails, branch out to a teacher who you think might be interested even if you have never had a class with them. The worse they can say is no.
Befriend Mrs. Baranowski (and the office people). Clubs require a lot more paperwork than you might thing. From announcement slips to fundraiser forms to event reservation forms (probably not their actual names, but hey, I tried), it can be easy to get lost. That’s where Mrs. Baranowksi comes in. She is your main point of contact for all club related activities and is almost always willing and able to help. She will be the person you go to if you want to paperwork to start a club, FYI.
Getting to know the other members of administration is also very important especially if you plan on implementing any school-wide projects or projects that need approval from administrators. They aren’t as scary as they might seem, and really only want to see you and your club succeed. And most of the time, they are only an email away (always make sure to cc the guidance counselor’s/assistant principal’s secretary when you reach out to them, makes sure that your message gets to them).
Don’t expect a ton of membership overnight. Unless you are a recruiting god or goddess, you most likely will not have a ton of members when you start. Just know that that is OK. Especially if you start later in the fall. Most students don’t even realize the amount of clubs that Pine View has, and only focus on the big ticket items like Key Club and Speech and Debate. Most of the time, you will have to start at a grassroots level and reach out to those students who seem interested in your club subject area. In class presentations are also pretty beneficial for new clubs, and many teachers are more than willing to have you come in and speak.
After the first year, it is often much easier to get members especially once you have gotten name recognition. With a solid advertising plan, you are bound to see members coming in!
BTW, if anyone wants to start a club fair, please do for all the new and young club’s sake.
Build a strong base of younger students. While it can be tempting to only recruit for your club from your friend group and your class, you need younger students if you want your club to last after you graduate. These are the people that you will train to take your place and keep the mission of your club strong within the Pine View community.
Always remember why you started the club in the first place. Wanted to raise awareness for cancer research? Teach girls how to code? An excuse to eat food and play video games with friends? Remember that. So maybe you don’t have the turnout you were expecting or the project you were planning fell through or (hopefully this doesn’t happen) your teacher sponsor leaves. Things happen. You can’t expect to do everything perfectly on the first try. So don’t let failure consume you. You believed that Pine View would benefit from having this club. You identified a need and formed a solution. That’s awesome! Just keep the passion you started with going through the ups and the downs and no matter what you are bound to make a meaningful difference in somebody’s life.
If anything, my clubs gave me a reason to come to school during second semester of senior year, which was a big help for my grades (but not for my chronic senioritis).
Grace Wickerson, Class of 2016
Founder and President of Kickin’ Violence and Girls Who Code. Founder and Captain of High School Science Olympiad.