Folding tables—matted with posters advertising an array of clubs—surround the putting green, and student leaders entice underclassmen to write their names down.
Mr. Bob St. George is in full, hockey gear in front of a goal post, Meditation Club has scarlet cushions laid out in front of the steps of the Study Hall, and Elliot Schiff ’16 is brewing some delicious tea. Orren Fox ’15 is modeling his beekeeper suit, Animal Rights Club has stuffed animals spread out, and Math Club has various, baffling puzzles strewn about. Trail Work even has some pickaxes and shovels for visitors to wield.
The fair was the school’s first—and certainly not its last. Clubs were successful in luring members and creating long email lists of names, but the question remains: was having a club fair productive?
Historically, club heads would stand up at Assembly and briefly mention what their club did, how to get involved, and an upcoming meeting or project, but what was said was often forgotten.
Kipper Berven ‘15, Head of Environmental Action Committee, remarked, “I think that the club fair provided a great opportunity for students to get involved in the club life at Thacher. As head of the EAC, with so many different subsections, I was glad that we had a chance to clearly present all the different aspects of our organization to the community. I look forward to seeing it implemented in the future.”
Ms. Sabina McMahon, Dean of Students, was excited about the club fair prospects.
“I heard from younger students that in the past they felt intimidated and that, even though club heads made announcements, they didn’t really want younger students at those clubs which is not the case. . .so I think that by having this club fair the senior leaders [were] able to actively engage in [the fair] and show their enthusiasm.”
Show their enthusiasm they did: upperclassmen and underclassmen, alike, were met with avidity, and many signed up at even the slightest inkling of interest.
By the end of the fair, clubs had extensive email lists. However, many who signed up did not attend any club meetings. The club fair ultimately failed to bring a significant rise in club participation.
Ms. McMahon believes one reason for the lack of participation is simply a matter of students finding time to find their niche.
“I think that you might put your name out there in everything or decide you’re going to do something and then, as you are engaged in you’re busy life at school, sometimes you have the opportunity to, and the time to, go partake in something and sometimes you just don’t.”
Ms. McMahon also expressed that she and student leaders organized the club fair with the intention of informing the student body so students interested in a club had all the information they needed to get involved. At the very least, those who were not interested in joining any clubs understood what clubs did.
Mr. Joel Sohn, advisor the the student newspaper, also felt that there were other factors to increasing club participation.
“Lack of club participation is possibly due to lack of organization within clubs. Failure to follow through and set-up meetings left those who signed up without the opportunity to actively engage in the clubs.”
Hopefully, as student leaders prepare for next year’s club fair, clubs will have more time to organize events and utilize email lists to increase club participation.
May next year’s fair be the best yet!