School clubs going virtual

How school clubs are adjusting in a pandemic environment

Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema

Lucy Holt, Staff Writer

By now, you’re probably used to the cycle of waking up, turning on your computer, and working on schoolwork from home the entire day. Even though students and teachers can’t meet in person, school has to carry on. Similarly, at Oakton, some clubs aren’t running at all this year because school is completely closed, but the ones that are still functioning are proactively making the necessary adjustments. Although they can’t go out and do service work right now, they’re still meeting virtually and preparing to function in the current environment and for when social distancing comes to an end.

One of these clubs is Impact Through Action, a club that aims to teach Oakton students to become leaders in their own community by using leader labs provided by the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. Normally, the club has three projects a year: the Big Thank You, Do Good December, and the Impact Project. The first project usually involves students expressing their gratefulness by giving a Chick-Fil-A gift card to someone who has had the biggest impact on their lives. However, since now students aren’t able to physically be there to thank them, they plan to make an Instagram post online to replace the gift card they would’ve handed the person otherwise. The Do Good December project is when the students visit a local senior center where they play games, sing songs, and talk to the senior residents. Of course, this year they won’t be able to visit the seniors in person for those activities. This year, they will be sending letters to seniors instead. Their biggest project, the Impact Project, happened around the beginning of the spring quarantine. Instead of visiting in person, they adjusted by writing handwritten letters to thank first responders, doctors, and nurses working at Inova Fair Oaks and Inova Fairfax. With the new restrictions, the plan is to possibly do some online tutoring and continue writing letters. The president of the club, Lucy Cai (12), says that they haven’t had to adjust too much because they can still do Chick-fil-A’s leader labs online. She elaborates on one struggle, saying “the biggest challenge for anyone online is just trying to stay engaged during anything, whether it be a club meeting or just during class.”

Another club transitioning to coordinating projects online is Touching Heart. They are part of a broader charity whose goal is to encourage and inspire the next generation to give back to the community. While they aren’t necessarily planning the entire year ahead, they’ve still had to adapt their ideas to fit COVID regulations. “Some of the people that we’ve worked with more than once will call in and say that they need something,” says vice president Abby Cortez (12), to explain how they determine who their next project will benefit. There are several ways they do fundraisers, such as spirit dining nights, movie nights or book drives. However, due to the pandemic, many of these are not viable options. A challenge they face is that, with school closed, they’re unable to get a hold of tangible items as easily which they would normally make bundles with to give to kids in need. The club is still working on projects from a distance, though. Plus, with the broader organization of Touching Heart, there are virtual monthly meetings with kids from other schools. If possible, they are thinking of sending out small groups to use funds to purchase goods for foster care while staying socially distant. As Cortez says “while we’re still having events, we are working to make sure that they are safe” because safety is the top priority.

It’s admirable that the club leaders are working to make the clubs still function as normal despite the significant changes needed this year because of the pandemic.