Club leaders strive for successful in-person return


Photo by Meghna Krishnan

Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) attends a virtual presentation last year. The group plans to continue its focus on business-oriented competitions this year.

Last school year was a stifling time for club leaders, as the virtual format brought traditional group activities to a halt. Now that learning has returned to the school building, club leaders are gearing up for a transition back to regular meetings and events. 

Club leaders are creating hybrids of their traditional pre-COVID group activities and the virtual events they adopted last year. For instance, Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), a group traditionally focused on attending business-oriented competitions, plans to continue its involvement in contests, but in a new way. “Because of COVID, we had to come up with a lot of new ways to keep members active and engaged. We played more games related to our competitions and held one-on-one time with leadership to help members feel more confident in their preparation. A lot of these activities were not done in-person and we hope to translate it into in-person now that we have lunch meetings available,” senior co-president Meghna Krishnan said. 

For heavily hands-on clubs like the Physics Club, which organizes demonstrations and puzzles, the challenges of last year’s virtual format have become a motivator for increased member engagement this year. “We will have more interactive activities such as labs and puzzles this year relative to before the pandemic. Many of our members found our Zoom lectures from last year tedious, especially after a day of listening to lessons through a screen. Therefore, we seek to improve the experience by offering activities that are not found in the classroom and make Physics Club more interesting,” senior president Jiayi Wu said. 

Clubs have faced challenges when attempting to return to in-person activities. Kids are Scientists Too (KAST) is a group that traditionally visited elementary schools to perform experiments for younger students. The group plans to continue its virtual format into this year because of the safety restrictions in place at its usual host, Lakewood Elementary School. “Although our communication with Lakewood will still be compromised, we at least have more connection with the Wootton club members because we’ll have in-person meetings together,” junior co-president Sia Badri said. 

Adopting a virtual club format has had its upsides for KAST, and the group’s leaders remain optimistic about this upcoming year. “We used to organize fundraisers, but there wasn’t much of a need to do that last year since students brought their own materials. Hopefully we’ll be able to reach out to more schools this year since distance is no longer an issue virtually and we don’t have to travel,” Badri said.

As club leaders gear up for the return of in-person activities and reflect on their experiences with distance learning, many have discovered they prefer being face-to-face. “I prefer being in-person because we’ll have more of a connection with the Wootton club members through in-person meetings together. We hope we can make this year even better than we did during virtual school,” junior KAST co-president Esther Ou said.