State High Clubs Adjust to Online Learning


Photo/Allie Peters

The Forensics Team’s first meeting took place virtually this year on Thursday, Sept. 17. In the meeting, members gave an introduction to the club while they explained how this forensics year is different compared to other years.

Allie Peters, Staff Writer

State High students have been wondering what clubs will look like this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect State College. Over 37 clubs at State High are offered this semester for students interested in a wide variety of activities. Much like classes this year, clubs at State High are doing something never done before- meeting virtually. Club presidents and advisors have had to plan online meetings as State High goes into its third week of remote learning. The first club meetings so far have served as introductions to the club, sharing the new adjustments to the club because of COVID. 

Virtual meetings create many opportunities for club presidents. Leaders were challenged to come up with original meeting material in a way that works best with online meetings. Sophomore and Thespian board member Joe Peters said that the key to making meetings special is to be creative and interactive. 

“We have had to come up with fun questions, and engaging material that still focuses on our curriculum,” Peters said. 

Much like Thespians, DECA(a business, marketing, and communications group) is taking this unique opportunity to get creative. State High DECA president Leslie Powers explained that a way that she makes DECA fun and engaging is to develop new strategies that make DECA as fun as possible while keeping DECA remote and productive. 

So far, we have had to adapt our meetings and become very creative in order to give our members the best experience possible. This includes using the Zoom breakout rooms in order to meet in a smaller group as well as trying not to lecture as much as possible,” Powers said. 

Not meeting in person has served as a challenge for some clubs as they rely on direct communication to strengthen the club community. A big part of the Forensics Team(debate, mock trial, and speech) is being able to engage with the audience and present with the pressure of people watching you. This is hard to do with a virtual audience. 

Senior Mabel Tong who helps to organize and run Science Olympiad said that she is hoping that the club will someday meet in person so that Science Olympiad members can grow closer.

“One event I wanted to plan this year as one of the co-presidents was to host a banquet or even potluck at the end of the season. I always feel like these events create an opportunity for our students to gather together outside of the typical school environment and enjoy themselves as they reflect on what they learn and accomplish throughout their time at Science Olympiad,” Tong said. 

With remote learning, some State High clubs have reassessed their traditional meeting structure in an attempt to make clubs equally beneficial and safe during the pandemic. This could mean the potential cancellation of traditions like team building, traveling, and competing. 

Like most clubs, competitions are not happening this semester for DECA because of safety reasons. 

“A big part of Deca is getting to travel and attend competitions all over the country which we, unfortunately, cannot do for the time being,” Powers said. 

Although DECA is competitive, another main goal of the club is to educate and teach students about business management, which can be done remotely.

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is also changing its learning approach this year by moving most of the offered event categories to virtual. In the past, participants would work collaboratively on events every Wednesday after school. This year, students are working from home and are suggested to work independently for events on their own time. Although it is not official, TSA club members predict that regionals and other events such as states and nationals will likely be held virtually for safety reasons.

Science Olympiad is changing up its meeting schedule this year in hopes of making online meetings productive. Not only are they making the meetings shorter than other years, but they are also having mentors for each scientific field offered. In order for this to be possible, separate meetings are being scheduled throughout the week. 

“By doing this, we can keep general meetings short and take into account all the students who have other commitments on Mondays-such as sports or work-as well as still ensure that Science Olympiad maintains its valued, close-knit community,” Tong said. 

While many SCASD students and teachers are ready to return to in-person school whenever the school district allows it, most clubs are choosing to stay virtual in order to make the club more accessible for its members. Forensics, for example, is going to stay virtual year-round so that students can communicate easier with other kids who may be remote all semester. Some other clubs, such as Thespians, have a plan for both in-person and online learning.

“I know that whatever happens with Thespians this year it will be a great year,” Peters said.

For more information on each club’s specific plan this year you can visit the virtual activities fair slideshow.