By HENA PATEL ‘23 and NEHA PATEL ‘22
Edison High proudly hosts 44 co-curricular clubs, according to the school website. Many of these student-run clubs have dedicated members eager to prolong and expand the wide range of activities. During the quarantine of 2020, many clubs began shifting online, and starting in September, with the virtual Activities Fair, clubs converted online, advertising their features through Gmail.
There are little to no requirements needed to join a club, and even though the sign-up date has passed, many clubs are awaiting new members.
Sunrit Panda ’21, founder of iSTEM, explained the specialty of his club: being flexible to the times of those who are interested.
“Our club is unique because we offer opportunities and support for all EHS students. So, people come to meetings that they are interested in. There is no commitment required,” Panda said.
iSTEM utilized the virtual atmosphere as a positive integration, having hosted the TEDxEdisonHighSchool Countdown event on October 14.
“The Zoom breakout room feature was a key part of our TEDxEdisonHighSchool Countdown talk,” Panda said. “We signed up for a program called TEDxCircles where small group discussions can be incorporated between talks. Many of our participants loved meeting our TEDx speakers in a smaller, intimate virtual setting.”
Many clubs are adapting to the virtual environment and are taking advantage of their online abilities to make each meeting special.
Krystal Ramnarine ‘21, the president of the Dance Ensemble, witnessed a large influx of interest in the club from other students and commitment existing members had for continuing their program.
“We have been working on a virtual format all summer. Despite being virtual, we have been met with great success in regard to the number of students, specifically underclassmen, interested in auditioning for the Ensemble,” Ramnarine said.
She also explained how meeting virtually has become “normalized” for the members of the club and has minimal affect on the program’s appeal.
“Although starting the year off without being able to be in our amazing studio at school is less than ideal, Mrs. Jenkins, our advisor, has been doing a wonderful job creating exciting pieces that the dancers can learn with limited space in their homes and then perform ‘together’ over Zoom. This has greatly helped give us all a sense of community and normalcy during these unprecedented times.”
However, not all clubs had to “cut down” on the possibilities that can be achieved.
“[Even though] clubs were not officially active, my officers and I were hard at work applying for TEDx licenses and planning a year of virtual events,” Panda said.
Avinash Aravind ‘23, the interim secretary of Quiz Bowl, explained a brief, but worthy hardship their club experienced: “It was painstaking at first to set up the Discord server, but once we had it up and running its so neat and organized and all the club members feel like friends now. Each week’s meeting is super fun to hold, and we had our first virtual tournament this past weekend which was also really fun.”
The usefulness of going online has turned the gears of many clubs, drawing in new members week by week. The convenience of viewing the online Activity Fair has greatly influenced the flow of new members.
Ayush Jasnani ‘21, president of The Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), revealed the turnout of their first meeting, saying “a great turn out of participants, was certainly more than we expected and we were very grateful for it.”
Sofya Ahmad ‘21, the president of the Ecology Club, had a count of 30 participants in their first virtual meeting of the year on October 22 and commented that a main factor of the large number of participants is “flexibility with timing now, so members can decide what time is best for them.”
Edison High students can also look forward to new integrations in clubs. For example, Ahmad says that the Ecology club is planning “an online game next month to encourage team building, and just letting members have the chance to personally meet each other.”
Meanwhile, in Theater Club, as member Amy Boslet ‘24 explained, there is an ongoing awareness project: “We’re actually working on a read through production of The Laramie Project over Zoom! It’s going really well! We’re trying to spread awareness and tolerance for people of the LGBTQ community with this moving production.” Boslet also noted that, as a freshman, the adjustment of new members to the club has been quite successful and less anxiety-inducing.
Aaron Cender ‘21, the president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), expressed the best part of his club being in a virtual atmosphere: “Everyone can easily access the club and the meeting from home! Nobody is left out and it is a massive safe space for everyone.” The club is energetically accepting new members as shown from his statement, “Yes, until the end of time!”, encouraging students from Edison High to not hesitate in joining their meetings.
Ridhi Gera ‘23, president of the Class of 2023, explained the virtual atmosphere is not a hindrance to their hope of continuing to increase school spirit.
“I feel like we all are one big family and if you join our big family, everyone welcomes you. We also have so many fun events planned for the sophomores so the more the merrier. You also have the chance to earn volunteer hours for your college application. Having fun + also college application hours = Class of 2023! :)” said Gera, presenting a great deal of passion even from the depths of the internet.
She did not stop there. “I feel like the best part of having our club in the virtual atmosphere is the chance to be outside the box and think differently,” said Gera. “For instance, no club thought of delivering merchandise for free with the great prices we are offering for EHS merch. The hoodies and t-shirts are a great idea and it would be great if everyone could place their orders for eagle pride!”
Even though some may think that the virtual atmosphere is a hindrance to the features clubs may provide, students are making the best of it and some are even advancing. In today’s society, dealing with the internet is an inevitable issue, but Edison High School has prepared for the worst and is ready to battle it.