Extracurricular Participation


Sydney Lo

In the Writing Center, one of the grammar-book filled shelves holds yearbooks from the Prep of the past. These black-and-white snapshots are surprisingly overflowing with clubs long since disbanded. Did you know that Prep once had a food critic club? A striving debate team? Even just six years ago, when I first came to Prep, I remember a vibrancy of community and participation that characterized the upper school. Although the pinnacles of our school extracurricular activities have continued to thrive like Knowledge Bowl, Basketball, and Track & Field, and occasional new clubs flourish like our Math Team, it is still disheartening to walk past those dated trophies in dusty cabinets in the hallways.

I don’t believe that the students today are less brilliant than those in the past, nor will I let the death of activities be attributed to iPads or the IB curriculum. No, we chose to let clubs like Art Club and Spanish Club die, we chose to claim that our classes were too time-consuming, and we chose never to participate after attending the first meeting. We have become apathetic to this school, this place that we are a part of regardless if we will admit it, and we choose to blame others. I will not pretend that I am not guilty, that I have not let myself get distracted and forgetful of my responsibility not only as a student but also as a member of this community. However, I will also say that I am aware of how many experiences and opportunities I lost in doing so. It is a disservice to myself, a disservice to my capabilities, and a disservice to my fortune in finding a place so ready to accept those who choose to engage with it.

Furthermore, the purpose for participation in these activities should go beyond lengthening your college résumé. It’s not bad that the activities do this, but in the end would you like the entirety of your high school to be a series of checked boxes? Clubs and sports allow you to follow passions and curiosity, explore concepts you’d never considered, become a better, more rounded person. With NHS I learned to garden better, with Student Council I learned what goes into creating an event, and with Golf I learned that patience and persistence are the only way to improve. Even if you don’t like the clubs that exist presently, make one. Write a page-long proposal, find a teacher willing to supervise, and communicate with people with the same interests as you. With our IPads that should take less than a day to orchestrate, and luckily our IB classes have refined our professional writing skills.

The most frustrating part of this, of course, is the fact that all students will inevitably leave. The senior class will be gone in less than twelve weeks. There is no captain or key member of a club, nor will there ever be, that the school can depend on to keep something alive. We all have to choose to participate. We all have to choose to care.