Exploration, Relationship, and Community: The Importance of Club Participation

At the start of my Fall Term, I, along with everyone else at the School, received an 11 page document with information on 100 or so clubs.

At the start of my Fall Term, I, along with everyone else at the School, received an 11 page document with information on 100 or so clubs. Considering this, when I asked my friends what clubs they had chosen, I was surprised to hear that not many people had signed up for any. In fact, there seemed to be a strange hesitancy towards participation in clubs. Admittedly, I too neglected to sign up for certain clubs and leadership positions out of fear of being rejected due to my status as a II Former. What we failed to realize, though, is that extracurriculars complete the Lawrenceville experience. To all the rising III Formers, this is a message to learn from our mistakes and take advantage of Lawrenceville’s diverse clubs for the rest of your time at the School.

In all fairness, this past year has been difficult for everyone, which to some extent justifies our lack of club engagement thus far. Clubs have had to improvise and adapt to the onset of a virtual and hybrid school system, which caused a decrease in activity for many clubs. More importantly, the pandemic resulted in a virtual, rather than in-person, club night, which did not give students a proper exposure to club offerings. However, we have adapted. Faculty advisors and student leaders alike have worked incredibly hard to adapt creative solutions, such as the implementation of Discord and Talkshop for enhanced communication in the Programming Club and the usage of frequent virtual seminars in the Creative Writing Club. We must take responsibility and acknowledge that to a large extent, we have indeed had opportunities of which we did not take full advantage.

With that being said, it is crucial that we pay more attention to the benefits of extracurriculars; the first of which is their outstanding level of variety and the opportunity they give us to expand our horizons. Personally, although I had little prior knowledge about philosophy, I randomly signed up for the Philosophy Club at the beginning of the year. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself having productive and thought-provoking discussions with my peers, and ultimately came to take away more from the experience than I would have if I joined another club concerning a subject I was already interested in. For example, we had a discussion involving immortality, pondering what it would be like to achieve immortality and the consequences of doing so. Similarly, clubs not only give you the chance to learn about new topics that are similar to your interests, but also provide you with interesting new angles of approaching them. For instance, I’ve always been invested in writing, but had little to no experience writing comedically. When I joined Spilled Milk just for fun, I had a really enjoyable experience learning the ins and outs of satirical writing. As I learned, signing up for a club just for the heck of it can lead you to something fascinating, so I think we should all put ourselves out there a bit more when possible, as cliche as that may sound.

Increasing investment into extracurricular activities also allows us to forge strong bonds within smaller communities. Extracurriculars can help you form communities with people in subjects you lack prior experience in and can even play a vital role in helping you learn about, and develop a profound love for, a subject. Earlier this term, I accidentally signed up for Lifetime Tech after I was cut from the tennis team. While I found the experience unusual at first, I quickly came to enjoy and appreciate the untold creative processes involved in theater production and the relationships I developed with my peers, who unfortunately had to put up with my lack of experience. The first day I attempted to paint a wooden board for II Form Shakespeare, I ended up creating an absolute mess on the floor because I simply never had used a paintbrush before. But, after getting some advice from other techies in Periwig, I was able to convert my disastrous painting process into a slightly more artistic one, an experience for which I am grateful.

Current II Formers have the blessing of three more years to spend at Lawrenceville. That’s three more years of learning from our mistakes and becoming more deeply involved with the School in as many ways as we can. Lawrenceville is a place to learn, but perhaps more importantly, it’s also a place to develop our existing interests and explore new ones. Getting involved in extracurricular activities is a great way of achieving that goal, so let’s all take more advantage of the numerous eye-opening opportunities available to us all.

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