This year, the nearly 80 clubs at Fountain Valley High School have adjusted to the restrictions of distance learning. Clubs can no longer hold meetings in-person on campus or get together for socials and volunteer opportunities. But a series of changes to the way clubs meet, compete and volunteer are helping them transition to the new school year.
Club meetings are now conducted virtually after school, with some only occurring once or twice a month instead of weekly in a teacher’s classroom during lunch. Most clubs use Google Meet or Zoom.
“We chose Google Meet because it’s easier to use and [has] better quality. Zoom can be unsecured sometimes too,” Save the Children publicist senior Cassidy Doan said.
Others have chosen to use alternative platforms such as Discord, a free instant messaging platform designed to create online communities.
“Our discord server now has 104 members from every single grade level and attendance at our meetings has been at an all-time high,” Leo Club president senior Thanh To said.
Volunteering and competitions, the main focus of many clubs, have gone virtual this year.
Service clubs have been organizing events that can be done individually at home, such as writing letters, making care packages and donating items.
“We are currently writing letters to children from our own homes to send positivity and encouragement to children in need around the world,” Doan said.
Academic and interest clubs must search for online competitions and activities.
“Our main weekly math event, Aretelabs, was already online; so the only difference is that we’re doing it on call instead of in person,” Math Olympiad treasurer junior Angela Shen said. “We’re still looking for online competitions and events though.”
For some, such as Chess Club president junior Andrew Tran, online events can seem like entirely different experiences. Tran said the hardest part of leading a club at this time the lack of in-person interaction.
“In person, you can have an audience, and you can see the physical board, see who you’re going against, and know where you’re going to be playing,” Tran said. “Whereas online, you can’t see the other person unless you face call, you’re most likely sitting at home at your computer, and nothing is physical except for the screen.”
Nevertheless, these clubs continue to work just as hard as they did in the past.
“The pandemic has definitely changed the way we practice and compete,” Mock Trial co-captain senior Cielo Chavarria said. “The biggest difference is that we cannot physically be together, which is a big adjustment for a team that is used to sharing dinner and spending at least 10 hours a week together! Currently, our team is preparing for our first virtual tournament in November.”
Board members, who would normally meet regularly to discuss agendas, face new problems when it comes to leading their clubs.
“I think the most difficult thing about leading during distance learning is keeping our teammates energized,” Chavarria said.
Coming up with new events to replace in-person gatherings has also been difficult for club boards, but many have found creative ideas online.
“Despite the pandemic’s challenges, I’m inspired to see how our team has worked together to adapt to our circumstances,” Chavarria said.
Despite not being physically present at school, clubs continue to provide a strong sense of community for FVHS students. Many use social media to keep members engaged and up to date.
“We are connecting with new members through social media, particularly Instagram,” Doan said.
Other clubs have branched out even further. Math Olympiad has created a math help Discord server open to all FVHS students.
“We’ve been helping each other out with deciding on math classes and just helping each other with math in general,” Shen said.
Online socials and club bonding events also help students connect in these times.
“Our team has been doing lots of icebreakers and connecting a lot more over group chats. We also plan to meet virtually for a ‘Friendsgiving!’” Chavarria said. “We are trying to make the most of our circumstances, have fun, and enjoy the moment with one another.”
Many clubs still miss the in-person experience, though.
“It just doesn’t feel right when you’re just sitting behind a screen,” Tran said. “You can’t interact with board members, you can’t interact with club members, and you can’t plan as many things as you want to.”
Although distance learning has brought many obstacles, clubs still thrive during this difficult time.
“Distance learning limits what Leo Club has been able to do in the past, but has pushed us to become even better,” To said. “I’m not worried about what is ahead, but I’m so excited and proud of what we have planned. This club has some of the most talented and creative individuals I’ve ever met and distance learning has only brought out the best in them.”