Sophomore Spearheads State High’s First Philosophy Club

Grace Roeshot, Staff Writer

Allaina Wagner, a sophomore at State High, began 2018 feeling unenriched by school. She felt bored and like there was an artsy part of her that wasn’t coming out. That’s when she started State High’s first philosophy club. “I wanted to make an environment where I could express ideas on philosophy with other students,” Wagner said.

The school hadn’t had any clubs or classes relating to philosophy, so Wagner set out to form her own. “The school doesn’t have philosophy classes and so it’d be something new and exciting,” Wagner said. “I was really interested in it at the time and I felt like other kids were too.”

She hadn’t heard of any clubs of the sort at the high school level, but she had heard of college philosophy clubs. She got the idea when she started looking through Wikipedia and became interested in the subject. “I had this one class where we did nothing and I started getting interested in different philosophies and was like, ‘What if this became a club?’” Wagner said.

Establishing her club at State High was no easy feat. She had difficulty finding an advisor, since State High requires a paid non-student advisor be at all types of club meetings and after-school activities. SCASD could not back the club because they were unable to pay an advisor to oversee club activities. “[Wagner] had to go to Mrs. Manning and they said they weren’t going to start any new clubs so it’s like an unofficial club,” sophomore Rachel Lembeck-Edens said. “Then she talked to her history teacher, Mr. Smith, who wanted to. She also emailed other psychology teachers and other teachers if they would want to. No one got back to her. Mrs. Zuhlke has been coming all the time.”

A typical meeting includes a designated topic for the hour of discussion. At the meeting on May 9th, Wagner brought up the topic of aliens. Wagner asked, “Do they exist? What happened if they existed?” She typically chooses a topic and then bring notes to prompt the discussion. “We essentially talk about the topic and then it devolves into whatever it becomes,” Wagner said. “We just sit around and bring ideas together and talk about life.”

On May 23rd, the main topic centered around Black Mirror. Wagner started the discussion by asking whether the technological dystopia of Black Mirror is possible, in the near future, or already occurring.

Lembeck-Edens decided to attend a meeting after hearing about it from Wagner. “We have a lot of philosophical discussions on our own and she wanted to create a club for kids to do that together. I went and supported,” Lembeck-Edens said.

At the initial meeting, Wagner proposed the idea of free will. “Do people truly have free will?” she asked. One of Wagner’s favorite meetings was when she presented various hypothetical situations and they “determined if they were considered evil or not and it was an interesting discussion,” Wagner said.

Sophomore Krista Chen joined the club after seeing posters and accidentally happening to be in the room where the club was meeting at the time. One of her favorite topics has been extraterrestrials and the worth of a life. “I hope that we can talk more about the government and the criminal justice system,” Chen said.

“I really like religion even though we haven’t really gotten into it yet,” Wagner said. One of her favorite philosophers is Soren Kierkegaard. “He’s very Christian based and I think it’s always an interesting topic,” Wagner said. She hopes to “dive deeper into [that] next year, but it takes a certain kind of group to be okay with it.”

Though the school year is winding down, anyone is welcome to attend the final meeting on Wednesday, May 30th in room C122. “I’m by no means an expert or even extremely knowledgeable about it, I just want to be knowledgeable about it,” Wagner said. The meetings have a friendly presence but also allow for deep discussion. Whether you’re a philosophy fanatic or simply curious about the club, all new members are welcome.