Trials and Tribulations of Central’s Club Leaders

By Kyle Lin (283) and Hannah Koch (284)

Central is an incredibly large and diverse community which means there’s always someone you can be friends with or a group you can fit into. All of these leaders indicate community impact as the most fulfilling aspect of leading, showing that when you can’t find a place to belong at Central, you can easily create your own place to belong. However, the administration of Central plays an incredibly large role in allowing a sense of belonging to be fostered. Unlike the underclassmen, the upperclassmen much more frequently expressed frustrations with administration and stress from leading a club. Denise, a current senior, cites the lack of resources available for club cabinets. The process of creating a club felt unclear, and although it was easy to find teachers to guide the creation of a club, there was no guidance on how to keep a club alive. Particularly in the case of the previously mentioned SEAS cabinet, there was a lack of advice on how to progress after losing a sponsor. Ellie and Sharon Jin, two seniors who are members of the DND club cabinet, say the communication between the administration and clubs can be improved. This year the communication is spotty with emails not being responded to for weeks on end. In their eyes, a lot of work falls on the club sponsor to supplement the shortcomings of the administration. Yet in many cases, the club sponsors were equally as clueless as the cabinet on the procedure for the basics such as how to receive funding or how to host, as well as advertise school events. The lack of communication from administration to cabinets causes a distinct lack of clarity, and what communication is received, tends to be negative or only concerning paperwork. Tina from the Costume Design club says that “it’s really just a lot of coordinating” and communicating, yet it’s fundamentally one-sided relationships from the student perspective, with cabinets doing most of the communication and coordination. The school administration also doesn’t provide cabinets with many opportunities, particularly in the ability to collaborate with groups outside of school. Every cabinet member cites a personal or outside gain, such as being given the opportunity to lead this building leadership skills and being able to put it on a college application, in addition to social and resource management skills. Dr.Scott and Ms.Whittle were quite sympathetic toward these feelings but their situation was equally frustrating. The combination of an influx of up to 20 new teachers and the lack of Student Association (SA) leadership experience in the building left them paralyzed. Ms. Whittle was essentially forced to rebuild and relearn how to lead the SA at central on her own, she sought out support from teacher alumni such as Mrs. Rodgrugeiz and Mr. Julien on how the SA was run in their time and other teachers who worked closely with SA to learn how it was run in the past. Even with their support, the sheer number of responsibilities was overwhelming for Ms.Whittle: the lack of information available for clubs was reflective of the lack of information available to Ms.Whittle. She had to spend days seeking out multiple different teachers or authority figures for basic information. Furthermore, the school district at times pushed back on Ms. Whittle’s work or had long delays in responding concerning issues such as paperwork or the legality of activities. All the while Ms.Whittle had to handle the creation of clubs, student emails, and informing new teachers on the club creation process. Despite all of these issues, Dr. Scott and Ms.Whittle both admitted that “communication was absolutely a mess, and you can quote us on that.” They both took responsibility for the grievances that were expressed and took it as a learning experience with many changes that will come once they’re prepared. Namely, they want to have the SA elections in the spring so that they’re fully functional for next year, allow for the creation of clubs over the summer, make sure that the club hub is more widely known through QR codes as well as other methods, possibly creating a revamped club hub, and having compensation for sponsors to encourage teachers to sponsor clubs. Students have also been negligent which has made the situation worse for SA leaders. Students should fully inform the SA of what their club activities are, particularly if they engage in off-campus activities. Students looking to create clubs should also be responsible in networking and building relationships with teachers. Although SA does try to find sponsors for clubs, Ms. Whittle says, “we can’t pull a sponsor out of thin air.” Ms. Whittle and Dr. Scott wanted to note that although students tend to view teachers and other staff as administrators (as they have been referred), the school views administrators as the president and vice presidents, thus students should also make sure they properly cite where their issues lie when asking for change. Although club cabinets may feel a lack of support, the reality is that SA has experienced all of the issues and more, and both Ms. Whittle and Dr. Scott take responsibility for them and are striving to fix these issues. As students, we should not only fulfill our responsibilities but be patient with changes. Central High School fosters a very welcoming community that is the perfect environment for clubs to come together and enjoy a sense of belonging, even with a few bumps in the road.

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