Harriton Clubs After COVID

Conversations with club sponsors; how Harriton clubs are changing and growing as they emerge from the COVID pandemic


Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

Jenna Ledley, Features Editor


During COVID, things changed, to say the least. They had to. On March 12th, of the now infamous 2020, the world shut down, and it wouldn’t reopen for many months to come. Suddenly, family dinners, hangouts with friends, and even school classes were online via Zoom. But these weren’t the only things that suddenly stopped on March 12th. All of Harriton’s clubs suddenly found themselves reeling, unsure how to proceed in a tumultuous world filled with uncertainty and fear. But when I interviewed the sponsors of 10 Harriton clubs, I learned that there might have been some positive changes that came out of the COVID pandemic – changes that might make clubs stronger, and even stick with them for many years to come.


The first question I asked club sponsors was what changes their club made during COVID. The results were very similar. The Writing Center went completely online, as well as Corinthian, and Science Olympiad competed in virtual tournaments. Harriton Service League did fewer events and made sure those events complied with COVID protocols. BuildOn prioritized and ran events remotely, like tutoring on Zoom. The Medical Club had its two biggest events, the Annenberg Symposium and the live surgery, on Zoom, which was upsetting, but “gladly done.” The Gender Sexuality Alliance had speakers and events on Zoom and did virtual fundraisers, and similarly, Certamen transitioned completely online, having online practices and tournaments. The Harriton Theater Company performed their shows virtually, while Pitch Please had Zoom practices, which were “very challenging, but students adjusted amazingly well.” For the first time ever, a yearbook was created remotely from start to finish.


Even with all of the changes that had to be made during last school year, these clubs continued to encourage creativity and participation, working hard to make sure that students stayed connected, passionate, engaged, even in the darkest of times. But now that the light seems to be coming in, I was wondering how clubs are changing now that COVID seems to be ending, and if they will be returning to the way things used to be. 


When asked how their clubs are getting back to normal, many sponsors shared about the slow change occurring as clubs revert back to some in-person events. HSL is starting to participate in the events that they did pre-COVID, and so is BuildOn, like going to JRA’s warehouse to pack and distribute food. Harriton Science Olympiad has a few local in-person tournaments scheduled, and Certamen’s practices are getting back to being in-person during L&L. The Writing Center is now doing both online and in-person tutoring.


Some clubs, like GSA and the Yearbook Club, have transitioned fully back to in-person meetings. Pitch Please and HTC are going back to live performances. Corinthian is spending time writing and workshopping together “in the flesh,” which is “really what it’s all about.” 


Though some clubs, like Medical Club, still have many virtual pieces, they are getting to see their members in person now. Club sponsor Ms. Hecht said, “It’s been so nice having everyone back in room 321 again and plowing forward with this year’s agenda.”


Despite the many setbacks faced during COVID, these Harriton clubs are definitely coming out the other side, many even stronger and better than before. They are having the joyous reunions and returns that they have been waiting for during the months of solitude and getting back to the events they love. However, maybe there are some things that we should take out of COVID with us, instead of just leaving behind. My next question to the clubs was exactly this: what changes from COVID are you going to keep in place going forward? 


Almost all of the clubs are continuing to use Zoom as a resource. The Writing Center is using it for tutoring sessions, GSA for listening to speakers, Medical Club for virtual live surgeries, and Pitch Please for the recording technology which can be used as “a supplement to in-person practices.” Science Olympiad is also using Zoom, which was explained by club sponsor Mr. Gauvin, who said, “For a club where students work in small groups with various schedules, connecting everyone seamlessly whether they are in the building or not can only be a good thing.” 


Some of the positives that came out of COVID were more unique. HSL established a relationship with a nearby garden while doing socially distanced events, which is a connection that they will maintain going forward. The editors of the yearbook made the decision to move to a chronological book (organized by seasons), which they are instituting again this year. Club Sponsor Ms. Vogel said that “creating the book in chronological order made it possible for us to meet our deadlines. We also ramped up our meeting agendas to include warm-up activities and featuring ‘members of the week’ which we hope to continue this year.” Certamen is trying to use the lessons and methods from COVID to expand the club to the middle schools. 


Expansions, improvements, and new relationships have all come out of these changes made during COVID. And maybe, instead of only dwelling on the darkness of the past year, the lost opportunities, and missed connections, we can look at what has been gained. These resilient Harriton clubs have managed to get through a hard time and come out even stronger.