Clubs move online to keep students engaged


photo courtesy Maria Sutka

Teen Task Force and the People’s Purpose Project are just a couple of the many RHS clubs who have moved to online meetings in order to keep their group together.

From reciting poetry to helping promote positive brain health to reading books, RHS clubs have still found ways to meet virtually to keep their year alive.
“We can’t meet with students face to face, which is one of the really fun things about poetry out loud,” Poetry Out Loud and Book Club sponsor English teacher Robert Keast said.
For Poetry Out Loud and Quiz Bowl, competitions look very different online compared to the normal in-person events.
“Usually the students actually go during the school day which has been quite disruptive the last many years,” Quiz Bowl sponsor, science teacher Robert Curtiss said. “That isn’t going to happen this year. We were able to go and find a company called Q Unlimited.”
Q Unlimited (Questions Unlimited) has been contracted by the league to host the matches this season. The company is operated by Chip Beall in Chattanooga, Tennessee and produces the question quiz bowl members are asked during competitions.
“We’ve contracted the company (Q Unlimited) to basically host our league this year,” Curtiss said. “It’s through Google Meets, so four students can play at a time, but instead of having buzzers it’s like ‘Team A this is your question, and team B this is yours’.”.
Being completely online is not the only big change Quiz Bowl has seen; this year, their league has been cut in half.
Being remote brings big changes to the way Teen Task Force (TTF) runs as well, as it brings many challenges for students seeking their services.
“We’ve kind of changed the focus. We can’t meet as a big group for lunch and the therapy dogs were huge and so helpful, but they can’t come into the school, so the whole model kind of got blown away,” social worker Maria Sutka said.
With all the challenges TTF faces being online, Sutka and other members have shifted their attention to something else, now called the People’s Purpose Project.
“TTF was a great initiative that we had the last couple of years, but this year, Hana Fiore has started something called the PPP (People’s Purpose Project), and that has kind of taken over the mental health needs of the high school,” Sutka said.
Along with Quiz Bowl, Poetry Out Loud, and TTF, the Book Club has also decided to move completely online for the school year.
“Online, we just do Zoom meetings and it’s just not the same,” Book Club sponsor Warren Baker said. “The whole idea of having a club is the interaction and the camaraderie and the chance to socialize with each other.”
For Book Club, being online also comes with the question of how to distribute books to club members. In light of this, Keast and Baker formed a plan for student members.
“Normally, we just have the kids drop by the classroom and grab them from me,” Baker said. “For now, Mr. Keast and I get them sent to our house and then we let them sit there for a couple days, put them in individual bags, then meet the students in the parking lot and hand them out.”
Online schooling is a struggle for everyone involved, so it is important for students to stay engaged and try their best to get throughout the current situation.
“I think it’s important for students to know that it is a very lonely time during the pandemic, and to try to join any Zoom group they can that’s got a social aspect to it,” Sutka said. “You need an opportunity to talk to other kids instead of just listening to teachers talk to you.”