What it Takes For a Student-Run Club to Survive

Over 80 clubs are available to students at the start of each school year. During the week-long club rush in October, tables are swarmed with lines of students eager to join and partake in the free candy. Whether it is for the candy or the club itself, students often start off the year excited for club activities.

However, no matter how strong a club starts out in October, it is a real challenge to sustain the club’s momentum throughout the school year.

“Club activity and individual group members’ commitment definitely weakens as the year progresses. Our main event, Candygrams, is in the winter, so the hype and participation has died down since then,” said Maddie Melnick ’12, Co-President of Global Friendship, a club meant to establish friendships around the world through pen pals and to raise money for Save the Children.

“Now that it is second semester it’s difficult for me to stay motivated. First semester this year, though, was very busy for us, so being a little less active is expected second semester anyways,” Melnick said.

Gabriella Rizack ’13, Vice-President of Go Pink, which raises money for Breast Cancer research, has faced difficulties in keeping her club afloat. “Partially due to my busy schedule this winter we have stopped scheduling meetings and having events towards the middle of the year,” said Rizack.

Rebecca Stern, advisor to the club Shaping New Horizons, tutoring kids at an after school program, states that without a core group of members activity decreases. “Participation faded with each sports season, as different sports began, different people would be available to conduct the tutoring,” said Stern.

Sometimes members only get involved to put their membership on their college application.

Richard Franzis agrees that there is always a possibility students start clubs to put it on their applications, but they must have some level of interest in the club because of the work it requires. “They have to get at least five members and an advisor, it is a lot of work to do,” Franzis said.

For members that don’t have to do as much work as the leaders, they often do join for college. “Many volunteers have never worked, so it is clear that many students signed up for SafeRides just to put it on their college applications,” said Gregg Bonti ’12, President of SafeRides, a club organized to provide safe rides home for kids on Saturday nights.

Some clubs make sure members are only there because they are interested in it. “I feel that those who are in the club just for college have dropped out. In the beginning of the year, the first month of meetings were basically just me talking about how dedicated and respectful you need to be and if you are doing this for college applications, this is not the organization for you,” said Sami Schwaeber, President of Best Buddies.

Even though clubs may not be filled with college application seeking members, membership can still falter. “It seems like a lot more students play winter and spring sports for our club, so not as many people are able to come to the meetings,” Melnick said.

Countless clubs that start off the year successfully will have disappeared by the end of the year, for reasons that are out of the clubs control. But, some manage to thrive despite the challenges.

Leaders realize that in order to keep the members interested they must be pro-active presidents. “People just need more reminding to attend meetings and make cards,” said Claire Carroll ’13, President of Stamps for Soldier. Stamps for Soldiers writes cards to send to the troops.

President Victoria Mechanic ’12 of the Interact Club designed for volunteering around Westport agrees. “We have meetings every Wednesday, no matter what, it doesn’t matter whether we have something to do or are just going to discuss future plans and activities,” Mechanic said.

Bonti also attributes SafeRides’s success to the good reputation it has among the Staples community. “The enthusiastic volunteers and their dedication have also greatly contributed to the success of SafeRides!” said Bonti

It may seem as though clubs have sports, senioritis, and schoolwork against them, but yet many have found the key to success and continue to flourish.