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Young Republicans, Girl Up and more!

Members+of+the+GSA+club+meet+after+school+for+one+of+their+regular+meetings.
Members of the GSA club meet after school for one of their regular meetings.

Members of the GSA club meet after school for one of their regular meetings.

Members of the GSA club meet after school for one of their regular meetings.

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The school has more than 100 student and teacher led clubs which meet after school, before school and during Generals Period. These clubs cover a wide range of topics including art, language, sports, music, politics and more. Many students join to meet new people,explore new topics, delve further into subjects that interest them and pad their resumes. Here is a small sampling of what the school’s clubs have to offer.

 

Young Republicans Club

The Young Republicans Club is full of lively debate at least once a month after school in room 2208. the club is sponsored by  Social Studies teacher Mr. Les Albers, and the president is junior Dina Ching. The club currently has about eight members. Ching reestablished the club this year after it faded out last year. “I started it to serve as a safe place for students with common interests and beliefs to be able to meet and discuss them,” Ching said. “I wanted those students to know they are not alone.”

At a regular meeting, they discuss the presidential candidates and focus on ways to get more students involved in the club. They often debate on different issues such as the rise of The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Syrian refugee crisis, government spending and marriage equality.

Most students found out about the club by chance but are glad they did. “I heard about it from Mr. Albers, and I was just so surprised that we even had a club like that at our school because we live in Arlington,” vice-president, junior Sally Gustafson said. “I felt way less alone, and it just seemed like such a cool idea.”

All members want more people to become involved because the club is so small in size. It is seen as a group which provides relief from the majority of the school’s liberal views and as a forum to share their views. “People who have conservative views should definitely join this club so that they can share their thoughts and discuss opinions that are considered to be uncommon among their peers at the school,” Gustafson said.

The members of the club know that they are not the most popular club, but they are happy with how the club is now and want to make sure it stays that way. Ching said, “I love all the people that are here now and if they stay, I see our club growing into a safe haven for all people with Republican and conservative views.”

 

Girl Up Club

Started to support the growth of female empowerment in developing countries, the Girl Up Club is a nationwide club run by the United Nations (UN). The organization has been around for a long time, but the branch at W-L is new this year. The club is sponsored by Social Studies teacher Mr. Kevin Phillips. The club is held after school about once a month in room 2212. This club currently has approximately 30 members who are led by junior Anna Beatrice. At a usual meeting they have a powerpoint to lead discussion about past meetings, fundraisers or other activities Girl Up has participated in recently as well as what the club is doing next.

This is the first year of the club, but the club has quickly gained more members than most clubs at the school, and members are excited to begin spreading their message. “I got involved after being invited to run the club with Anna and it sounded exactly like something I would be interested in,” vice-president, junior Caroline Freeman said.

The club is serious about their mission and wants to make it clear that the club is not just for hanging out, but about helping others. Those involved want more members who are ready to work. “People should join this club if they are passionate about education and life improvements for girls in developing countries,” Freeman said. “If you want to see things actually happening, this is the club for you.”

The club’s last meeting was held Tuesday. Recently, an event to visit the Girl Up offices and headquarters in DC was organized. The club is still young, but those involved are very excited to see it thrive. Freeman said, “I hope to continue to get new members involved and to keep coming up with new ideas for the club to become a better place.”

 

Gender and Sexuality Alliance

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance gathers after school every Thursday in room 4022. Started to spread awareness about Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues, the club has become a safe space for LGBT people and allies. The club’s sponsor is math teacher Ms. Susan Lauffer, and the club currently has approximately 15 members led by senior Fiona Miller. At a usual meeting, members make plans for the club and how to expand it. They recently participated in the Holiday Bazaar to raise money for LGBT community members who are in need. Also, people are sometimes invited discuss current LGBT events or to do workshops to raise awareness for certain hot topic issues.

The members of the club are passionate and rely on their fellow members like a tight knit family. All are excited to be part of such a fun and loving group. “In week two or three of school last year I heard about this club over the morning announcements and I just thought wow, this club sounds so relevant to me and my life,” sophomore Caroline Martin said. “I joined, and it was just a really great choice for me.”

Members of the club look forward to going each week and like to keep the meetings going as long as they can. They are also very eager to gain even more passionate members. “It’s a welcoming environment and everyone is so nice. It is a really great learning experience,” Martin said. “It also gets you involved in the school community. We are very service oriented as well, and we are constantly working to help the LGBT people in our community.”

Members are very interested in progress for themselves and the rest of the LGBT community. “Hopefully we can have an LGBT prom or some kind of dance,” senior Zion Amero said. “I would love for the club to get more involved in Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) and Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). A couple of years ago, we were way more involved in that, but it has kind of petered out. Overall, I just really hope that this club continues to be such a warm and welcoming place.”

 

Ukulele Club

The Ukulele Club meets to enjoy playing their instruments after school every Thursday in room 1404. The club had approximately 15 musicians. The club’s sponsor is choir teacher Ms. Theresa Severin and is led by seniors Grace Burgess and Gail Muggill. The club was started last year to serve as a place for people to learn how to play the unique instrument and hangout with people who love it just as much as they do.

At usual meetings, members get settled and tune their instruments, while Burgess or Muggill take out sheet music for a song. The club members suggested various of songs they wanted like to work on, earlier in the year. They run through the song until they feel like they know it well enough. The club coordinates with Ms. Severin and the chorus, and since they did not have a way to showcase their club by itself, they played a song at the Thanksgiving assembly.

Being a relatively new club, members are proud of how much they have grown from last year. “Last year after Grace and Gail started the club, they encouraged a lot of just their friends to join, but now this year we’ve branched out to include more people,” senior Jesspert Alim said. “We have a bunch of freshman this year.”

Members see the club as a community that anyone, no matter their skill level, should want to join. “People should join not just to learn how to play ukulele, but also to immerse themselves in this culture that is different from a normal music playing atmosphere,” Alim said. “Ukulele is an instrument that is not provided by the school, so it is a very different experience from doing chorus, band or orchestra.”

A large amount of the club is made up of senior members who want to make sure the club will still be around once they graduate. They are working to give underclassmen more leadership, so the club will continue to thrive next year. “I consider this club to be my family,” Alim said. “Even if I do not have my instrument, I come to the meetings anyway. I don’t just come for ukulele, I come for the friends too. I really hope that the ukulele club continues to be here in the coming years and also be able to do more events and grow.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Young Republicans, Girl Up and more!