Clubs Adjust to Online School

In a virtual world, student led clubs find creative new ways to engage their members.


Girl Up Presidents, Zoe Zaltz and Emma Cherrin

Berkley High School is home to over 30 clubs and student run organizations that allow students to act on their interests and curiosities. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, and schools forced to move online, leaders of clubs at BHS must step back and decide what the best format for their group looks like. Presidents of these clubs are approaching decisions with care for the club, determination to keep their club running through online schooling, and motivation to make sure they continue to exceed their club’s goals and standards.

“We have to restructure our club and ensure that we are planning events that will encourage people to stay engaged even without being together at school.”

— Emma Cherrin

Senior Emma Cherrin is the co-founder of Girl Up at BHS, a highly acclaimed group that “advocates for global gender equality while empowering girls and young women in our community.” During a usual meeting they will spend their time brainstorming, planning events, and learning about a wide variety of topics surrounding gender disparities. Because of COVID-19, the club is no longer able to bring the community together by putting on fundraisers like bake sales and cookie decorating. Another challenge that they have noticed early on is the increased difficulty of recruiting new members. In a typical year, Clubs in the Courtyard was a great way to acquire new people for the group. Nonetheless, Cherrin is not known to back down to any challenges.

When referring to the adjustments the club has to make, Cherrin stated, “We have to restructure our club and ensure that we are planning events that will encourage people to stay engaged even without being together at school … We are still in our brainstorming process, but some of the adaptations we are considering are virtual speakers, encouraging attendance of national Girl Up events, Netflix parties/zoom movie nights, and wellness sessions (i.e. online yoga classes and mental health discussions)”

Another club that is positively entering the major phases of adjusting to these interesting times is UNICEF. With senior Emma Driker leading the way, club members know that being apart will not prevent them from accomplishing the objective of teaching Berkley students about important human rights and refugee crises around the world. Every other week during in person school, members of UNICEF discussed these issues and learned about how UNICEF gives aid to people affected by these crises. Although the inability to meet in person is frustrating, all members of the club are excited for a year of meeting through an online setting, while implementing new COVID friendly fundraisers.

Driker passionately mentioned how she is, “looking forward to discussing the important work that UNICEF is doing to aid other countries during the pandemic.”

The organization with the highest amount of members at BHS is the National Honor Society. Senior Owen Pittman, president of the organization, knows that with great power comes great responsibility as he enters a year full of obstacles. Similar to the other clubs, though there may be more challenges this year, Pittman acknowledges that the intentions of the group have stayed steady, even increasing expectations in some aspects. Pittman and his fellow board members, including Isabel Zaltz, Emma Driker, and Sophia Papadopoulus, are committed to providing service for the community in many forms: tutoring, addressing community concerns, zoom tutorials for edlerly, virtual meetings, NHS breakfast, and so many more. The largest problem they have come across so far is being unable to have in-school opportunities for volunteer hours. However, with lots of collaboration and communication they are constantly coming up with new ideas to help the Berkley School District, while staying safe. This is being done mainly through online tutoring, with students of all ages inside and outside BSD, which Pittman has found extremely effective. Pittman hopes that the organization is still able to break the record for most volunteer hours at BHS, despite the challenges that have been thrown their way. Pittman’s determination to unify a group of students to better society and to work hard will surely be more than enough to get the job done.

After talking with many leaders of clubs and organizations, it has been made clear that the inability to be with their groups in person is not preventing them from meeting their objectives. They are entering this school year with an impressive amount of optimism and excitement for what is to come. With these leaders, like captains on a ship, running their clubs through rough waters, there is no doubt that the clubs at BHS will be effective.