Clubs move online for virtual jamboree

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Photos provided by Shravya Aparasu

Shravya Aparasu prepares for Diversify Your Narrative club presentation.

Bellaire hosted its first online Club Jamboree, an event that promotes the 111 clubs to incoming freshmen, on Sept. 11. 

Freshmen trickled into the HUB, searching through the clubs’ Microsoft Teams links. With hopes of recruiting new members, club sponsors and officers waited idly for the arrival of their first few guests. 

Senior Sernry Tu, President of Junior State of America, initially had low expectations for the event but was happily surprised.

“The fact that it was online and that there were like 10,000 clubs there, I felt like it wouldn’t be very successful,” Tu said. “But, we did get about 10 to 15 people to sign up, and that’s actually pretty successful given the numbers that we usually get.”

With the school year starting online, club officers adapted their plans to endure the absence of in-person interaction.  

“We have debates and discussions through online meetings on Google Meets,” Tu said. “What’s really cool about online discussions is that since people don’t have to physically be there, we can get people from outside of the club or outside of Bellaire to come.”

Through online meetings, Tu said more people outside of Bellaire JSA could engage with the club. Carnegie High School students and non-JSA members participated in the club’s discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Despite the new opportunities to expand her club, senior Shravya Aparasu, Research Head of Diversify Your Narrative said she would rather speak to potential members in person.

“In some aspects, it’s a lot easier because we can reach more people,” Aparasu said. “But you also lose that personal connection. If you’re explaining Diversify Your Narrative to a crowd, it’s a lot more meaningful than doing it through text.” 

Adapting to online methods also prevents the National Honor Society from participating in their traditional events. In previous years, NHS members participated in elementary school carnivals, festivals and garage sales. This year, they will replace these activities with online tutoring through the student-created organization Tutes for Studes and optional Food Bank volunteer hours. Senior William Fan, NHS president, frequently communicates with Head Librarian Carl Casteel, the club sponsor, to create a different agenda from last year. 

“Many of the events we’re doing are new,” Fan said. “So, we don’t actually know if they’re going to be successful or not. We have to do a lot of precautionary planning if this goes south. We have to have a plan B.”

For NHS, common fundraising methods such as bake sales and car washes were unrealistic, causing Fan and his officer corps to search for innovative alternatives. Excited to utilize Redbubble to sell NHS merchandise, Fan sees this idea benefiting NHS in future years.

“Even if I’m not president, and even if our officer corps changes, I hope that the ideas we put out this year can still be used in a non-COVID world,” Fan said. “I think that the ideas we came up with are really, really interesting.”