The coronavirus pandemic changed many aspects of the Naples High community over the past year. One of the most notable of these changes occurred within clubs. As many students remain online for the second semester, club leaders have found creative ways to adapt and accommodate both in-person and online students’ needs.
Since August, Collier County Public Schools have enforced strict regulations on group gatherings within school-related events. These regulations led to the cancellation of school events, such as pep rallies and homecoming. For the Student Government Association, these regulations make it harder for the club to accomplish one of their main goals.
“SGA’s goal is to raise school spirit and involvement in the student body to make people feel like they are a part of the school community,” Junior Class Vice President Lane Calkins said. “Since there are restrictions, it has put the club at a stalemate.”
Restrictions on group gatherings also put club conventions and competitions online, which presents a unique challenge to club leaders. The Model United Nations’ convention is normally held at Florida Gulf Coast University over a two-day period. However, due to COVID-19, the convention moved to an online format.
“The fact that the convention is online ruins a lot of the fun and experience,” Model UN President Fay Ghorayeb said. “This is especially true for our freshmen who have never attended a Model UN conference before.”
Freshmen this year entered an entirely different club environment than usual. Without an in-person club rush, many were not able to talk to club leaders directly about involvement. Many leaders have put more time into encouraging freshmen than in previous years.
“It is a little more difficult to do something online by yourself for the first time,” Mu Alpha Theta and Future Doctors President Vivian Carmody said. “A lot of freshmen are confused, but we are taking our time, being patient and trying to explain the workings of the club.”
Other club leaders are taking a more direct approach towards encouraging freshmen to reach out to them with questions or concerns.
“I have a group chat with myself and all the freshmen to make it less of an intimidating environment,” Ghorayeb said. “I make it clear that they can come to me for anything.”
With more restrictions and online meetings, leadership roles within many clubs have changed. Calkins agrees that the dynamic within SGA is much different than last year.
“There is less club comradery,” Calkins said. “The committees used to be intertwined with one another so all grades would work together.”
However, Carmody believes that the new club format makes her job as president less stressful.
“I thought I would be doing a lot more organization as president,” Carmody said. “Now my job is easier because everything is virtual.”
Leadership, club meetings and club conventions are among some of the things that the pandemic has changed at Naples High. However, Ghorayeb wants to make the most of clubs being online.
“Although clubs this year are very different from last year, I am glad that we still get to experience clubs compared to many schools this year who do not,” Ghorayeb said.