Photo Club fought for funding; administration listened

Senior Caitlyn Siminerio takes a photo during a Photo Club sponsored trip to Grounds for Sculpture in the 2015-16 school year.

Allie Kuo

Senior Caitlyn Siminerio takes a photo during a Photo Club sponsored trip to Grounds for Sculpture in the 2015-16 school year.

Julia Pardee and Sarah Lynch

At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Photo Club was a newly unofficial and Advanced Yearbook was no longer a course. But after pushback from Photo Club council, Principal James Gleason found a solution: adding an Advanced Yearbook class second semester fourth period.

Photo Club was initially de-funded because of a lack of student interest in the Advanced Yearbook class, said Photo Club President and senior Allie Kuo of Tinton Falls. The funds were then allocated to make a Yearbook Club in place of the course, and Photo Club subsequently lost its funding, Gleason said.

“There was a change last year because of the yearbook. The yearbook-slash-photo club were tied together. We weren’t going to be able to offer the yearbook [class],” Gleason said.

Kuo said this would have been devastating to the club.

“Photography is such a huge part of Communications, and since there are also no digital photography classes offered for this school year, that means that there are no digital photography opportunities for the students at CHS,” Kuo said.

Another factor in Photo Club’s initial defunding was the limited number of stipends allowed for each career academy, which is usually between 10 and 12, Gleason said.

“There’s not going to be a stipend added to a particular academy without a strong reason for it being added,” Gleason said. “It would be fair for the district to say, ‘We’re just going to add one for CHS’. It wouldn’t be fair to the other academies.”

Kuo and other 2015-16 Photo Club council members advocated for Photo’s Club official status.

“Some council members and myself attended two board meetings over the summer to bring attention to the situation, as well as a meeting with Mr. Gleason to discuss the direction that Photo Club is headed in and the possibility of refunding it,” Kuo said. “There was also a petition at the end of the school year last year, that over half the school signed in support of Photo Club.”

Gleason said he and the school guidance met in August to talk about the issue.

“We are going to look to reincorporate Photography Club, so then Yearbook would just be in the curriculum,” Gleason said. “We took a look at who signed up for the [Advanced Yearbook] class, and we picked a place within the schedule where it had potential of being offered… We figured out fourth marking period, second semester was available. We met with the students that were in that section, and we also met with students that put [Advanced Yearbook] down as a request or as a possible request.”

Gleason asked students if they would be interested in taking an Advanced Yearbook class during that block, and he said he had students express interest. As of now, no official changes to that class have been made in the schedule, but Kuo said if funds are officially given back to Photo Club, the club could maintain its official status at CHS.

“We can continue to go on our annual Grounds for Sculpture trip that’s very popular, and have fundraisers to support our club,” Kuo said. This year, we’re hoping to hold many workshops to teach and encourage digital photography for both experienced and new photographers.”