Clubs and extracurriculars adapt in the new school year



Club fair is back at CHS and the students are eager to participate in clubs again.

Zaina Saif and Jacqueline Litowinsky

Though remote learning disrupted much of the school environment, the impact of COVID-19 was hardly limited to the classroom. Many non-academic school activities, such as clubs and extracurriculars, were put on pause for the 2020-2021 school year.

At CHS, only a few clubs were able to continue operation during online learning, including the Junior State of America (JSA), Student Government Association (SGA), the Inkblot, the Zine, and SkillsUSA. Club heads and advisors were able to carry this out through an entirely virtual format. Once the hybrid learning model was implemented and students began returning to in-person learning, Google Meets were utilized in order to accommodate students at home.

Junior and JSA vice president Lucy Battista of Tinton Falls reflected on how JSA coped with the virtual format.

“It was effective in the sense that we were able to keep JSA alive but it wasn’t effective in preserving the actual spirit and life of the club because it certainly was not as fun as it usually is most years,” Battista said.

Since students were not able to physically attend their classes until October, several school-wide events, such as the club fair, did not take place. For freshmen, this would have been one of their first opportunities to meet club members and leaders face-to-face and get a sense of what they might want to get involved in.

However, with New Jersey schools opening fully in-person, club engagement will look much different this fall.

In a virtual discussion about the reopening of schools, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy shared his perspective on bringing back extracurricular activities.

“I think we are going to be in a dramatically different and better place than we were last September. I hope we can get as close to normal as possible — five days a week, extracurriculars, sports. All things that help the richness that kids and educators get from being in person,” Murphy said.

Battista shared her insight on how clubs will be functioning in the new year.

“As far as I know we are going to be having in-person meetings. There is going to be a 20 minute period in between the junior-senior and freshman-sophomore lunches for clubs to operate,” she said.

Additionally, the club fair will return to CHS this fall. Sophomore Alex Batzar of Middletown shared how she thinks this shift will impact CHS underclassmen.

“During my freshman year, we didn’t really know what all the clubs were about and what we were doing in them,” Batzar said. “With the club fair coming back, the class of 2024 and the incoming freshman will join more clubs because they will be able to really get a feel of what will happen in clubs.”

When it comes to athletics, high schools across the country are implementing a variety of measures to combat any possible COVID-19 infection. In Hawaii and New York City, high school athletes will be able to participate in sports if they’re vaccinated. The NYC mandate will apply to students who participate in “high-risk sports,” including contact sports like football, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse and competitive cheerleading, and indoor sports such as bowling.

“We want to make sure our athletes are safe given particular [sic] the nature of these sports. And so we’re putting that mandate in place,” New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said in a radio appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

A vaccine mandate like this hasn’t proven to be a popular measure so far in other U.S. states and school districts. New Jersey, for example, has allowed high schools to begin outdoor fall sports’ seasons in their normal timeframe without a vaccine mandate. However, the beginning of indoor fall sports was pushed to February.

“Everything certainly changed because the online conventions and meetings just weren’t the same,” Battista said. “But I’m really looking forward to bringing back the spirit of JSA in the new year.”