With half of the school going in on certain days, social distancing procedures being enacted, and the removal of the FLEX period from the schedule, many students questioned how Salesianum would reopen its clubs and activities during the 2020-2021 school year. Despite these uncertain times, moderators and student leaders have taken necessary precautions to reopen their respective clubs and have weekly meetings.
With new social distancing requirements comes new changes for Salesianum’s wide variety of clubs and activities. While most groups are meeting digitally through Zoom on Wednesdays after Chapter, others are taking precautions to have a certain number of members meet in-person. Dramatically altering the way clubs will function this year has required moderators and members to make compromises in what they can and can’t do.
Disc Golf Club, one of the newest this year, is having limited in-person meetings. “As a rule, we have students wear masks when they are in close proximity to others outside,” says Mr. Klein about moderating the club. “Also, we have multiple disc golf baskets so we can keep student groups distanced and safe. Finally, we sanitize discs that students borrow from the school.”
When asked about making adjustments to Culinary Club, which was very popular last year, Mrs. Correale explained, “Mrs. Mansi and I are going to Zoom from our own kitchens with culinary club members. We also changed the name to ‘The Sallies Cooking Show’. The benefit of this ‘show’ will be the added interaction where students can cook along with us and ask questions as we go along from the comfort of their own kitchens.”
Maintaining the momentum of these clubs is another concern, but the moderators have solutions in mind. Mr Klein explained, “Many students and local community members recently realized the beauty and abundance of [disc golf] courses in the area. For example, there are about seven disc golf courses within a twenty-five minute drive from Sallies.” Because of how many courses are nearby, there will be a lot of variety in terms of how members will play.
As for Culinary Club, Mrs. Correale said that members were surveyed on recipes they would like to learn. “Based on their votes, we have several different topics we are going to cover the second Wednesday of every month at 3:30pm. Some hits included learning to make soup and Christmas cookies. We are going to kick off [October] with learning snack recipes and how to make smoothies.”
Arguably the most important part of Salesianum’s clubs and activities are its members, and attracting new ones is key. Most of the Disc Golf Club’s meetings are in-person, and Mr. Klein believes this helps to foster connections between members and especially newer students. “So far, we had a putting clinic and competition, and our seniors recently competed in a nine hole doubles tournament, which ended with Connor Girard and Christian Nichols winning a prize disc!”
Mrs. Correale hopes that, despite the environment for clubs being dramatically different this year, she believes that “we won’t know if it’s going to be effective if we don’t give it a try.” As for recruiting Freshmen this year, she states, “I would encourage our Freshmen to continually challenge themselves out of their comfort zone and try to get involved in the different clubs, even in the new formats, because they could meet new people and discover new interests.” She made sure to note that anyone interested in talking about food or participating in “The Sallies Cooking Show” can contact her!
Student directors are working closely with their moderators to make the club experience as worthwhile as it can possibly be during these uncertain times. James Edwards ‘21, a student leader for Salesians Without Borders, says that the biggest challenge for him is reimagining what being a part of the program will look like. “I’ve had to take a step back and work with the other leaders to create ways to involve members while maintaining a safe environment,” he explains. “[This] has challenged me to think about the foundational purpose of the organization and build from there.” James believes that virtual meetings offer up endless possibilities of their own, such as inviting guest speakers and having calls with those along the border to “create our own little ‘BRIDGE trip’ from home.”
Sean Spych ‘21, a director of the Writing Center, describes what the prospect of online tutoring looks like. Since in-person meetings aren’t happening this year, he explains that the student directors, “had to develop some new strategies to meet our needs and still provide an excellent session. In addition to the basic training already provided, we began encouraging our tutors to take advantage of technology like Google Doc sharing and Zoom breakout rooms, both of which we believed would improve tutoring sessions.” Despite not having the in-person experience like in previous years, he believes that the tutors are carrying their weight, giving the best assistance they can to students who come to the virtual Writing Center.
Despite the hybrid schedule and social distancing requirements, moderators and student directors have ensured that their clubs and activities will be able to stay active. Virtual or not, clubs will continue to be a source of student camaraderie and unity, which is especially important when only so many people can be in the building at one time.