Are You Part of It?
Volume 4 Issue 1
November 6, 2023
Image Provided by Clipart Library
In school, we get graded on homework, projects, assignments, tests, quizzes, and another thing that you cannot turn in or put on paper: participation. So, what is participation? As I see it, participation is involvement or being a part of something whether it is a discussion, activity, or group. We are aware of the importance of participation in the classroom, partly because our teachers stress it every day, and Infinite Campus sends us notifications for our participation grades, but how are we of the importance of participation outside of the classroom? I would like to focus on the kind of participation we are not graded on or our involvement in the school community.
Throughout September, we heard about the many extracurriculars that Valley Stream North offers at the club fair dedicated to displaying the activities of the different clubs to new students or others looking to get involved. The idea that we should attend school events, join clubs, or try out for sports has been discussed repeatedly, but for good reason. I think that we have become heavily focused on how extracurriculars look on paper for college applications and overlooked the reason it matters to colleges in the first place. I spoke with Mr. Brodsky, one of the guidance counselors here at Valley Stream North, about the importance of involvement in the school community, and he mentioned that, “not only will it enhance your college application, but it will also show the college that you are a well-rounded student and that you want to give back to the community.”
A majority of the clubs here at VSN work for the betterment of the school community or society; however, are those clubs as popular as sports? At our grade level assembly, our assistant principal, Mr. Jara, asked us to stand to gauge the extracurriculars students were involved in. A majority of students participated in sports and other clubs, but several were only involved in sports. Of course, playing a sport is healthy, builds community, and demonstrates school spirit; however, I think participation outside of the classroom should go beyond athletics and include activities that directly work to benefit the school community because, as I discussed with Mr. Brodsky, it says a lot about a student when they dedicate time to serve the community and inspire others to do so as well.
It is important that we all collectively understand the importance of joining clubs that work to serve the school community. The Alliance, BSU, Ecology Club, Key Club, SADD Club, STOP Club, and Wellness Center are examples of clubs that serve the school community. These clubs provide everyone with the opportunity to help support a cause that they are enthusiastic about, which matters to colleges because according to Mr. Brodsky, when colleges are working on admitting students, they want to know, “Will they enhance our community as they did in high school, or on a bigger scale?” These organizations are a space to participate in discussions, campaigns, fundraisers, decorating, and unique activities organized by these clubs which work to enhance the community.
Participation in the school community is not limited to the few clubs or sports we choose to join; it includes supporting the clubs we are not a part of. Spirit days are popular amongst the clubs here at VSN and allow others to support the causes that other clubs advocate for. Spirit days are a simple way to uplift our school community or other communities by making the simple decision to wear a specific color, yet there seems to be a lack of participation. As a member of clubs like SADD, where we plan out spirit weeks to get others involved in our campaigns, I have noticed that several students do not participate in spirit days. Advertising does not seem to be the issue because flyers are displayed, morning announcements are made, and reminders are posted via teams. I understand that we cannot all participate in every spirit day because not everyone owns a pink shirt, cultural clothing, a lei, or has a favorite celebrity to dress up as, but we should try our best to participate in those that we can because supporting other clubs is a significant part of school participation. We can make a statement as a school community with a wardrobe choice and show our dedication to a particular cause. Some spirit weeks are just for enjoyment or school spirit, and participating in these days demonstrates your support for our school.
Another more direct way to participate by supporting other clubs is by attending fundraisers or sales. Certainly, you do not have to buy at every fundraiser, and you should only spend money if your financial situation allows you to do so. As someone without a sweet tooth, it is understandable that not everyone would like to purchase a pie, cookie, or muffin, but clubs also sell practical items like pens, pins, water bottles, or bracelets. Recently, North's band held a fundraiser for the Daler community to help support them after the Farmingdale bus tragedy, an example of how participating in the school community can help another community. Students may not participate in fundraisers, spirit days, or clubs because they are unsure of how it helps or what it is for, so I would encourage everyone to ask. Ask advisors, teachers, and club members how you can get involved and participate in the many wonderful activities going on in the school community. Everyone has something to contribute, so ask questions and be part of it!