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Upper School Clubs Encourage Students to Explore Interests and Share Knowledge

January 13, 2020

Spencer B. '20, left, plays against Ben M. '21 during Chess Club, which he forme

Spencer B. ’20 spearheaded the Upper School Chess Club hoping to share his love of the game with classmates.

“I really wanted people to have fun with it,” he said. “I saw this as an opportunity to integrate not only my own passion for it, but to get other people involved.”

The Chess Club is one of four new Upper School clubs this year; the other new ones are Improv, International Thespian Society, and Kodiak Spirit. A Kindness Club is slated for approval. Students are required to join at least one club each year. They may currently choose from 14 clubs, ranging from robotics to National Honor Society to Garage Band. KICS (Kodiaks Investing in the Community through Service) is a philanthropic club that grants money from concession sales during athletic games to worthy causes and nonprofits in the community.

“Clubs allow for teachers to feed student curiosity outside of the traditional academic realm and also allow for students to gain an appreciation for passions and unique skill-sets beyond the classroom,” said Nicole Goyette, Middle School and Upper School division director.

While teachers act as sponsors to provide oversight, the clubs are student-driven and typically meet once a week during lunch. Some have commitments outside of school such as Model United Nations, which recently traveled to an international conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Model United Nations at an international conference in Geneva, Switzerland, last

If students wish to form a club, they must find a sponsor and complete an application. Forum, which functions as the student government body to facilitate social and service activities, decides whether to approve the club.

The Chess Club is among the most popular and sponsored by Dr. Josh Gillon, an avid chess player who teaches Economics and Statistics. He often plays against club members and offers tips, something Spencer appreciates.

“It’s such a break from the normal learning,” Spencer said. “You’re playing against somebody, but either way, each person is getting better. We laugh a lot in here. People are going from not knowing how to play to really enjoying it. That’s what I really wanted to do, to get more people to enjoy playing the game.”

Brent Moorhead, director of bands, is the faculty sponsor for Garage Band, which allows students to jam, create, and feed off each other’s musical energy.

“It’s not me at the front of the room teaching the concept, controlling the pace, and determining the end product. Instead, I am more of a guide, a reference, and occasionally an equal participant if I am asked to play along on an instrument,” he said. “I get to witness the students collaborating and creating on their own as they tinker with songs, coach each other, and finally arrive at something they are excited to share with our school community.”

Garage Band has performed at events such as the Open House & All-School Showcase, Revue, prom, and gala. Moorhead is grateful students have the creative outlet.

“Garage Band in particular allows them to further pursue the art of music in a way that means something to them personally,” he said. “For me, it is incredibly gratifying to see our students take their classroom interests and explore them together outside of class.”

Green Team promotes environmentalism at school through various projects in sustainability and eco-awareness. Some of the club’s projects include helping with the school garden and promoting recycling on campus. The club also sponsored the food area at the Open House & All-School Showcase in which compostable products were used.

Heather H. ‘21 is on Green Team, and her passion for sustainability and the environment has only deepened.

“Over the summer, I went to (The Island School) in the Bahamas, where I lived on a sustainable campus for 30 days and focused on how I can lead a more sustainable life. One of my biggest takeaways from this experience was communicating and making others aware of ways to make their lives more sustainable,” she said. “Green Team has allowed me to focus on my passion for sustainability, educate others, and overall make CSS a more sustainable campus.”

Green Team member Heather H. '21 speaks to 3rd graders about about sustainabilit

In the fall, Heather taught 3rd graders about sustainability and what it means for our future.

Younger students hearing and seeing Upper School students passionate about their planet and engaging them about it is irreplaceable,” 3rd grade teacher Alex Schilperoort said. “It’s authentic and meaningful to them because someday they will be Upper Schoolers themselves. Third graders are eager to learn and share their learning with others, so what a great opportunity to ignite their curiosity, altruism, and a recognition that they can make a difference in the world every day.”

For Mia C. ’22, clubs offer an opportunity to strengthen friendships.

“It’s just fun to be with your friends during lunch,” said Mia, who is in Forum and Kodiak Spirit. “I think in all of them you can make a difference and get involved with school.”

The Robotics Club lets Lukas G. ’21 explore a fascination he’s had since elementary school. He creates gadgets that he wouldn’t otherwise build.

This allows me to convert a random electric motor into VEX gearing,” said Lukas, who is also in Disc Golf. “Normally there’s no way I can attach this to a robot, so I built this so I can screw it on.”

The Robotics Club lets Lukas G. ’21, left, explore a fascination he’s had since

Tiffany J. ’20 is in the International Thespian Club, Spirit Club, National Honor Society, and Chess Club. For her, the clubs go beyond expanding hobbies.

“It helps you get more involved in CSS life,” she said. “It is easy to do as little as possible at a school, but when you join clubs and get involved, school life is more fun. It gives you the opportunity to connect with new people and become friends with people you otherwise wouldn’t.”

As a three-sport athlete, Sarina M. ’20 knows having fans at games drives her excitement to compete, and it’s why she spearheaded Kodiak Spirit. Members make spirit signs for athletic events and encourage more fans to attend.

“It is important that each athlete at CSS, no matter their sport, feels supported and proud of their accomplishments and proud to represent CSS,” she said. “Many of us strive to make a difference, and CSS clubs help us make a change and make new friends. If there isn’t already a club you like, you can always create your own as I did, or you can try something new.”

Sarina M. '20, left, spearheaded Kodiak Spirit, in which members make spirit sig

Estin N. ’20, who started Improv Club with Leggatt K. ’20, is active in six clubs, including National Honor Society.

“I really like all of them. There’s not one that I’m in because I need a club credit because clearly I don’t,” Estin said, laughing. “It’s a really good way to get a break from focusing on the academic side of school. It helps me to get in touch with people in a way that I don’t in a classroom setting.”

Upper School Clubs currently offered are Art, Chess, Disc Golf, Forum, Garage Band, Green Team, Improv, International Thespian Society, KICS (Kodiaks Investing in the Community Through Service), Kodiak Spirit, MatchWits, Model United Nations, National Honor Society, and Robotics. Past clubs have included Poetry, World Cultures, Technology, and Ultimate Frisbee, and Ping Pong. Learn more here.

Spencer B. '20, left, plays against Ben M. '21 during Chess Club, which he forme
Model United Nations at an international conference in Geneva, Switzerland, last
Green Team member Heather H. '21 speaks to 3rd graders about about sustainabilit
The Robotics Club lets Lukas G. ’21, left, explore a fascination he’s had since
Sarina M. '20, left, spearheaded Kodiak Spirit, in which members make spirit sig