Loomis Goes Clubbing

Photo+by+Liz+Jiang+%2716

Photo by Liz Jiang ’16

As inquisitive students of Loomis Chaffee, we look to clubs to supplement our learning by exposing us to topics that we generally do not encounter in our daily education. Especially for those taking many classes, one can join clubs like Acapelicans, Musical Reuve, or Ballroom Dancing if they do not have time in their schedule for choir or dance, etc. We have amazing freedom at this school when it comes to clubs: all you need to create a club is an idea, a co-leader, and a faculty advisor. Thus clubs of ranging topics like ukuleles and Harry Potter have been created, and the school encourages clubs like these because they want to further unite the community through mutual interests.

Many clubs exist on campus. You have very established clubs like Spectrum, Prism, and the Log, which all are very active on campus, constantly arranging events. There are also artistic clubs for music, visual arts, and dance. These clubs usually cover facets of art that students would like to expand upon during Loomis. For example, Acapelicans focuses on a capella music, and Musical Revue focuses on musical theatre songs. That’s why clubs are so wonderful because they allow us to take our learning further and in, sometimes, very obscure directions. Every year, walking around the fair, you generally find a mixed bag of clubs varying from cultural, to athletic, to culinary. While it seems such diversity would be great for the community, a lot of clubs do not seem that effective. In fact, many clubs die every year despite having extremely promising proposals.

Most clubs falter based on a misconception: running a club is easy. At the beginning of the year, every club has incredible enthusiasm, but their passion alone cannot sustain the club. Successful clubs must have clearly defined goals and a detailed plan. This is easier for more established clubs that have been running successfully for years. Clubs must also have leaders willing to commit to the club on a higher level than just active members. As co-leader of Musical Revue, I have responsibilities to organize music, schedule the group, and teach the material, amongst other obligations that I share with my co-leader. The amount of work we share would most definitely overwhelm a single person, yet we do it because we genuinely love our club. Unfortunately many people start clubs because they want the credit of leader so they can boast to colleges. Therefore they are not actually enthusiastic about the club and probably will not commit enough time to it. Also, the responsibility of leadership is daunting, especially when one considers our academic and social pressures. Thus many leaders quietly step down by the end of the year, having never maximized the full potential of their club. Also, with so many clubs at Loomis, groups have to compete with each other to schedule meetings. Many groups get double booked during a community free, forcing students to choose one. This is unfortunate, but inevitable. Since clubs rely on student involvement, they cannot be considered effective if they have no members, no matter how noble or interesting their premise.

But even if a club is running successfully, is it still effective? One inhibitor of clubs is funding. Many clubs have very costly aspirations that their budgets cannot support and then they struggle to find a back up plan. So while the school gives us the freedom to make our clubs our own, money will always be a restriction. Xana Pierone, leader of over three clubs on campus, believes clubs are “more effective for activities than fundraising”.  Fundraising clubs spend the year coming up with creative ways to raise money, but often lose sight of what their club stands for. I have most definitely donated or bought something to support a club, and then walked away without even learning more about the cause. Depending on how these clubs define their goals, they are either effective because they have raised a certain amount of money or because they have educated the community on a worldly issue. I would hope they strive for the latter, but realistically, many have settled for the former as a standard of success. The most effective clubs have the most creative events, trying their hardest to attract and maintain student interest. Spectrum organized a trip to Ethel Walker to watch a documentary on the transgender community. It’s events like these that epitomize club effectiveness. Through these unique events, clubs can truly enhance students’ minds.

Clubs are inextricable with Loomis, and without them Loomis would suffer. Though many fail to reach a level of effectiveness, there are many that do, and their benefits can be seen around campus. Prism hosts hot topic discussions that get students to open up and express their opinions. StuActs organizes incredible events for the weekends. Basically, as obvious as it may sound, clubs are as effective as we make them. Firstly, Leaders have to maintain passion within themselves and their members or the club cannot function. So if we can manage that, then we simply have to embrace the freedom the school provides us and tap into the potential of our ideas.