It was a perfect autumn day on the Germantown Friends School Common as more than 400 Upper School students darted from table to table at the annual clubs and activities fair. With 60-plus offerings this year, divided into four categories (social identity, mission, interest, and publications), the students had dozens of options from which to choose—and myriad of sweets and other goodies to tempt them at each booth. This year, newcomers, including Awareness + Action Club (AAC), Providing for Pups, Ultimate Frisbee, and PA Science Olympiads, joined old favorites, such as Model UN, Environmental Action Club, Anno (yearbook), Education Justice, Mock Trial, Peer Tutoring, and the Black Student Union.
"We wanted to make it easy and accessible for students to embrace community and bring attention to the issues we think are important and relevant," says Caroline Burnham '20 of the impetus to launch AAC. Adds co-leader Megan Hua '20, "With all of these things going on, both locally and globally, we wanted to become more involved in causes that are meaningful to us, and learn how we can make an impact."
Burhnam and Hua weren't the only ones looking for a way to connect with their fellow classmates. Brainstorm, a neuroscience/psychology club led by Rachel Burnett '20 and Madeleine McGrath '20, is "based on personal interest and the sharing of knowledge and ideas." The group streams TED Talks and documentaries on specific topics they're interested in learning more about; discussing the Science of Laughter was a club highlight last year.
For Caroline Rickels '22, Claudia Rickels '22, and Allyson Katz '22, the idea for starting Providing for Pups, a fundraising club for dogs, stems back to a Middle School trip the three took to Ecuador together, where they noticed a lot of homeless dogs. Since it's hard to get clearance to volunteer at animal shelters when you're under 18, their mission is to raise money for local shelters and other dog-related expenses. "We hope to expand our work locally, but for now, fundraising is our best effort."
In the middle of the energy and semi-chaos of the fair stood a group of freshmen girls looking wide-eyed and a bit overwhelmed. When asked which activities they had signed up for, clubs like Knitting, Admissions Office Student Guides, Support for Positive Body Image, and Big Sibs topped the list. But the biggest draw for these students?
"The clubs giving out candy."