By Katrina Schell, Performing Arts Division Head
As our school entered the new academic year this fall, everything in the building seemed fresh. New teachers, new coaches, new uniforms, even a transformed library quiet room. Updates and changes are ways of life in the modern world, and, for the most part, these changes promote progress and have the potential to deepen community strength. However, there was one change at LCA that may not have merited the change. A change in our schedule. The dissolution of club block.
Quite apparently, club block does not exist as it once did. Chess club, Debate, Dance, DIY, Lion’s Heart, and many more clubs have been transformed into just another academic block. Entering into the 2018-19 school year, administration reasoned that club block was no longer sustainable. Scheduling played a major role in this decision. Each year, 5-I was set aside as club time, however, this extra block was necessary for some classes. If AP level classes needed more meeting times, education rightly trumped extracurricular clubs. Many students had science classes during this block, mainly juniors and seniors. Since upperclassmen were usually the leaders of clubs, this posed a severe problem.
Along with forced lack of participation from upperclassmen, the regular student body did not always use their time wisely during club block. Although there were a few clubs that held passionate gatherings, many did not have regular attendees; rather, a floating group would sparsely populate them. A study hall option was also offered during this block for every grade, which many students took advantage of. If so many students would just go to study hall or goof off, why set aside time for a club block when it offered false promises to students forced into actual classes?
These problems did exist, however, they were not as widespread as many people believe. According to a student survey, 68.8% of students never had a class take over club block, and only 21.2% of students routinely attended the study hall option over a regular club; although more students did choose study hall every once in a while, the most repeated reasoning for this choice was an increase in homework.
Now, the administration had fair reasoning for removing club block. This year, LCA is no longer making false promises to upperclassmen that would be taken away by a class. However, the LCA community is finding that the positive impact of club block on the LCA community outweighs the shortcomings of the system. Club block was a time for passionate students to work for causes they cared about. Debate club sparked thoughtful and respectful conversations, chess club offered a haven for logical thinkers, and where would this community be without this amazing, fantastic newspaper? Although some students were apathetic and perhaps had no clubs that suited their interests, club block put aside a space that benefited our community.
Take Math Team for example. This team, a club originally started by Tim Zhou, has been wildly successful, winning competitions through the hard work of our students. The people that make up this club are passionate, and they care about what they are doing, but if club block had not existed last year or the year before, would the club have started at all? What future clubs are we missing out on by not offering a time for them to blossom?
The administration claims that they are not against clubs being formed; however, they are not willing to set aside a designated time for this purpose. The survival of newspaper and chess club is a testament to LCA for supporting clubs that are determined to beat the odds and start anew. However, keeping the Blue and White afloat was not an easy task. It was impossible to find coinciding study halls for the full staff; miraculously, we found two lunch blocks that everyone was available. During these meetings, we attempt to cover all of that week’s business; however, we often find that we run out of time. It is simply impossible to get through everything in under thirty minutes.
Even if it is possible to find a common meeting time in our current schedule for a club to form, what is that taking away from students? P.I.G. takes over a lunch block, H.O.W. takes a lunch block, chess is directly after school, and there are whispers about new clubs forming during lunch block. Some people are left with only two free lunch blocks, committing their time instead to a club. Why are we taking over useful study halls and lunch blocks for these students when club block would factor everything in? What about the students that are not willing to give up these moments of rest or socialization, but still are passionate about a club?
What about the clubs that were full of passionate people, and yet are not willing to start up again? Maybe the effort is not worth it to the club members, and yet, some clubs were doing community building activities. Lion’s Heart existed solely to strengthen community bonding, and it served as a time of fellowship for those that wanted to focus on spiritual activities outside of chapel. Just because they have not restarted their club does not mean it had no impact; it does not even mean the members were not passionate. The lack of a designated club block presents a significant barrier to club founders.
When club leaders were asked what the biggest challenge was in reinstituting their club, one student responded: “There is simply no interest in afterschool clubs.” A repetitious response was the lack of coinciding lunches between interested people, leaving them no option for where to start their club.
Even apathetic students deserve time to decompress. If there were no clubs offered that suited to a student’s personal passions, club block served as a time to chill, explore new opportunities, and simply have a rest from the demand of college preparatory school work. Some might say this is a waste of time for an academic institution; however, many would argue this time was a healthy respite that teachers heartily encourage. The Blue and White’s piece about student stress received tremendous support, and the administration has expressed its concern in the health of our students. To quote one student, “if you keep telling us not to be stressed, why are you assigning us more homework and taking away our study halls?” Should students really be punished for taking a study hall instead of attending a club when the average student gets less than 6 hours of sleep per night?
LCA enjoys having a strong, connected community. The Christian environment offers a completely different style of learning, but there is always room for improvement. Club block not only offered a space for passionate people to hone their unique crafts, it also allowed grade levels to communicate, new friendships to form, and it allowed for increased community bonding. The designated time for students running clubs has had amazing results in the past, giving us a wildly successful Math Team. Without club block, even passionate people are left with an uphill battle to find enough like-minded individuals with one central meeting time that would merit forming a club. Scheduling issues may arise, and students may feel betrayed by not being allowed to join clubs over academic classes, however, the overall detriment to the LCA community far outweighs the downfall of a slightly imperfect system.
Where are we to go from here? Maybe club block is a remnant of the past. Perhaps the system of 5-I meriting a separate title will never reappear. Although many students advocate returning to the previous system, all the student body is looking for is a time where they can meet together and form a club surrounding their interests. One solution offered by the chess club is shortened blocks on Wednesdays to provide a time at the end of the school day for a makeshift club block. Most athletic games take place on Wednesdays, which allows for those students to not miss valuable academic learning; however, the six day rotation would guarantee that no single Day would be given the short end of the stick and lose class time every week. LCA focuses on the whole person: heart, mind, body, and soul. An extra hour of classes every rotation might strengthen our minds, but LCA strives to be more than a simply academic institution. Bringing back club block would mean reinstituting a piece of our community’s heart and soul.
“I believe that club block was a great addition to LCA. It allowed students to use their creative abilities in the different clubs that the school offered.”
“Club block was necessary to encourage the creation and activity of student-run organizations. Without it, this is all but impossible.”