By first period on September 7, dozens of tables with posters and free candy were set out on Berkeley High School’s campus green as students began pouring out of the buildings. The school’s annual Club Fair is an eye opening experience to the multitude of clubs that BHS has to offer. The Club Fair additionally serves as an important way for clubs to gain publicity.
This year, BHS junior Tyen Zhu set up a booth for the school’s returning Interact Club, a group that is part of an international, community service-oriented organization known as Rotary International. After participating in a Rotary International leadership program over the summer, Zhu began to question why BHS didn’t have an Interact Club.
“I (thought), why not just start one?” said Zhu. He believes that bringing the Interact Club back to BHS after a year of absence would not only be a great opportunity to help others, but would also push him, as the club’s leader, to commit to giving back to his community.
Similarly, Isabel Nieto, a senior at BHS, chose to step up and become co-president of Latines Unidos as a means to strengthen bonds between community individuals. Nieto describes her goal with leading Latines Unidos as working towards creating a welcoming and safe space where students of various Latinx backgrounds can strengthen bonds through shared aspects of each others’ cultures. “I feel like this club will make the Latinx community here at Berkeley High bigger and come together as a community,” said Nieto. “And just be more out there, do more events, and educate people on our heritage.”
Phoeben Worku, Berkeley High’s National Society for Black Engineers president, pointed out some of the challenges of leading a club. “I remember last year, I was spending almost every lunch and even missing some classes to help plan out our trip to Kansas City,” said Worku. She described how planning each meeting, as well as switching up agendas from presentations to guest speakers, and to trips for national conventions is a lot of work and requires a hefty amount of time management. “But it was all worth it in the end because we all had a lot of fun,” said Worku.
Through the hardships and technical workloads of running a club, the passion of the leader is crucial. “I feel like if you’re kind of only doing it for college, it’s kind of like ‘meh,’” said Taylor Johnson, co-president of the school’s Korean Culture Club. “You’re reflecting that energy onto other people … and also the message of your club won’t be spread as much as you may want it to be because you’re not super engaged.”
It’s really cool to see how quickly people improve and gain confidence.
– Eloise Biddle-Gottesman, BHS Speech and Debate Team Novice Captain
In addition to enthusiasm, learning to build a club using member input is effective for keeping the club’s content engaging. “The ability to see things from a more bird’s eye perspective and not just your own and the ability to be decisive, I think is very important,” stated Echo Rettstatt, co-president of the Story and Songwriting Club. Rettstatt works alongside Nora Sachdeva, the club’s other co-president and founder. The two have utilized Discord servers and Google Forms to communicate with members and understand what they want to see happen in their club.
Leading a club is not only an opportunity for members to grow and learn as individuals, but also allows club leaders to explore their own passions
Eloise Biddle-Gottesman expresses her love for teaching by serving as a novice captain of the Berkeley High School Speech and Debate Team. In the previous year, Biddle-Gottesman was a novice on the team herself, and believes that being part of the supportive debate team majorly improved her public speaking skills. By taking on a leadership role in the club, this passionate debater can see herself reflected in this year’s novices. “It’s really cool to see how quickly people improve and gain confidence,” said Biddle-Gottesman.
As a sophomore, Claire Freytag, the president of The Berkeley Girls All Blues Club Rugby Team, agrees that taking on a leadership role aligns with her passion for rugby and allows her to further spread love for the sport. “I’ve never done this before,” said Freytag. She explained how she is feeling a little nervous about the new leadership position. However, she continues to remain optimisic and ready for the challenge that comes with the new role.
“We’ll see how it goes!” said Freytag.