RHS Club Culture in the Age of Zoom

Ridgewood High School is proud to showcase many different and unique clubs, each one incredibly welcoming and inclusive. Many students join clubs not only because they focus on a hobby or interest they enjoy, though that is a large part of it, but because they provide students with the opportunity to spend time with like-minded individuals. 

The social aspect is a key factor of school, which is why many students were looking forward to returning to school this year. Quarantine, and the relative inability to spend time with friends, was difficult, especially during the summer when many plan to make the most of their free time. Because of this, when we were given the chance to see people again via school and afterschool activities, it is no wonder people were eager to get involved with clubs. However, with the global pandemic remaining a very real and pertinent issue, the in-person meetings we so looked forward to are no more, at least for the foreseeable future. Club leaders have had to shift to platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet to continue meeting. This shift has brought on a variety of challenges and opportunities that leaders and members have had to face and make work in order to continue to function well and efficiently.

As students have all used Google Meets and Zoom in classes, rehearsals, and various other school functions, they are all aware of the issues that can come up when these tools are in use. Similarly to so many other video call/chat platforms, there are often technical difficulties such as lag, microphone and volume issues, and wi-fi problems. This is especially prominent when there are a lot of people on the call, such as in a club meeting. However, this shift also brings many successes and new opportunities with it. These include the ability to join the meeting from nearly anywhere, the fact that you are able to get information out to a potentially larger audience, and the fixed location and time that is easily accessible to all members and potential members.

One of RHS’s most popular clubs, and subsequently one of their largest, is the Project Interact club. Their goal is to help the community in any way they can, no matter the issue, as described in their motto: ‘Service Above Self’. Having spoken with their leaders and attended a virtual meeting, it was clear that, while they have faced some difficulties with technology, they are determined to adapt and continue to help the community. They have found that social media and bulletin boards within the school have been incredibly helpful in spreading information to members, efficiently communicating with everyone. As Project Interact is one of the largest clubs, as mentioned before, the ability to meet virtually has benefitted them. This is due to it allowing them to not need to try to fit 80 or more people into one classroom. After speaking with the leaders of the club, it is clear that they are very hopeful for the future, and will work with whatever changes may come. Mrs. Reilly, one of the advisors of the club, summed it up well: “We [Project Interact] are so adaptable. We reacted quickly,[…] and virtual will not be a problem”. 

Getting a different club’s perspective on the shift gave further insight into some of the difficulties and successes of using Zoom and Google Meets. After speaking with the leader of SAGA, one of Ridgewood’s many wonderful clubs, it was interesting to learn how this shift has affected smaller clubs. She made note of the fact that, since they are unable to meet during lunch as they did in person, it can be difficult to find a day and time that works with all the members’ schedules. She added that this can cause people to miss meetings due to previously scheduled commitments. However, one of the nicer functions of the platforms is the ability to record the meetings, which gives everyone the opportunity to go back and rewatch the meeting and gain any information given during it.

Although we may be uncertain about what the future will bring, it is definite that clubs at RHS are just as prominent as they were in past years, and are always accepting new members as the school year progresses.

Abigail Saitta
Staff Writer

Graphic: Meghan McGorty

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