Submitted by Ellie Dawson-Moore
Student run clubs have been a fixture at SPA for years. Even as leaders of clubs graduate, there are always students who take their place. But in recent years, some students have encountered a problem. Some areas of interest are not covered in pre-existing clubs. In instances such as these, students have pioneered their own clubs.
Ninth grader Ellie Dawson-Moore felt this problem starting in middle school.
“When I came to SPA, there wasn’t really anyone “out” or any space where I felt I could safely or even casually express my feelings for girls or question my identity. There also was limited information on the queer community, in class or in the hallways,” Dawson-Moore said.
As a response, Dawson-Moore began pushing for a middle school Gender and Sexuality Acceptance club. The club officially opened the spring of her eighth grade year and still completes regular meetings. Dawson-Moore believes the strength of the club lies in its ability to educate its members.
“While queer teens could explore their identities safely, and make other queer friends, [the club] also provided a space for straight or questioning students to educate themselves as well.”
In the Middle School, there are no clubs, but there are affinity and identity groups which, in the case of GSA, sometimes carry over into the Upper School. Once students reach the Upper School, they have the opportunity to branch out and become part of or start their own traditional clubs as well.
Dean Thornberry explained the process one takes to create a new club.
“Clubs that are existing and have both a faculty advisor and a student leader roll over into next year. If a club has become inactive or if someone wants to begin a new club, the student needs to find a faculty member to serve as advisor, have at least five students interested in joining the club, and complete the new club form. I then review the request and if it aligns with SPA policy, meets all requirements, and has a clear purpose and goal, the club is approved,” Thornberry said.
In a similar sentiment to Dawson-Moore, junior Will Rathmanner found another way to start a club. He was a member of the Young Conservatives Club his ninth grade year, but the club stopped meeting his sophomore year. This year, Rathmanner decided to revive the club.
“I realized we have no place where conservatives can come together and talk about issues other than in the classroom,” Rathmanner said.
While Rathmanner didn’t start the club himself, he understand the challenge of leading a club into action.
“I think anyone who wants to start a club should just do it,” Rathmanner said. “It’s a really rewarding experience that I think has bonded me with my classmates.”