The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

From the inside out: How clubs at nearby schools model success

While the school boasts an array of more than 50 clubs, ranging from American Sign Language club to Marine Biology club, most have around only 15 members. Considering this small number, it is safe to wonder: What do clubs look like at other schools, and how can we learn from them?

Harker DECA: The essence of ambition

Dressed in pristine suits, Harker students pose in front of the camera and smile as they form a square symbol with their hands. This moment, captured in the group’s Facebook cover photo, features its time in Anaheim for the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) Club’s Career Development Conference (CDC).

Although the group is composed of 90 students, the massive gathering does not nearly encompass all of the club’s 370 members — one third of Harker's student body. Compare this to Saratoga High’s DECA club, which was cut by activities director Rebeca Marshburn this year because it lacked an adviser.

Harker DECA attracts students who are interested in the business and entrepreneurship fields. With around 125 active members, it is Harker’s largest club and boasts a campus presence unlike that of any club at SHS.

“Everyone [in Harker] knows about our club, and most respect what we do,” said Harker DECA member sophomore Alex Mo.

Students begin working on their projects for the club from the beginning of the school year to competition season, which lasts from January to March.

Because lunches at Harker last around 45 minutes, Harker DECA helps students through the long competition process with optional study sessions that take two to three hours at a time. The club holds two study sessions after school each week and a study session every other weekend.

Underclassmen in particular may struggle due to their lack of experience, so they learn skill sets and receive help outside of meetings to strengthen the base of the club. By senior year, they can lead younger members to achieve more during competitions and be better prepared to take on leadership responsibilities.

According to Mo, molding this strong team of leaders has led to Harker DECA’s growth.

“Like any business or organization, it’s important to establish a foundation,” Mo said. “Find a group of officers and an adviser willing to put in the countless numbers of hours of work. Passion is key, and this will drive the chapter to success.”

The club’s adviser, Juston Glass, embodies this passion. Besides taking care of the club’s heavy logistics and communication with the DECA State Director of California, he does everything from helping students prepare for competitions to providing students with snacks. Harker DECA’s president, senior Savi Joshi, said his efforts explain why he was recently nominated as California DECA’s Adviser of the Year.

Unlike Harker’s DECA club, SHS’s unofficial DECA had difficulty staying active because of various factors, which includes failing to find a coach willing to help members attend and prepare for DECA competitions. One former member added that the club seemed to lack direction and had officers with meaningless positions.

Wilcox Interact: Service with a purpose

At the Fall Leadership Conference (FLC) on Sept. 28, SHS students were not the only Area 11 “Exhilarating Eagles” in intricately designed royal red and blue T-shirts to take flight. One hundred and forty Wilcox Interact members showed their spirit at the conference as well, outnumbering SHS by 95 students and demonstrating their large presence.

“Every Wilcox student has heard about Interact, and most have participated in at least one event,” said junior Amy Matteson, secretary of the Wilcox Interact club.

The organization is centered around participation in volunteer opportunities and draws in many members despite meeting only once a week, during a 35 minute long lunch. With around 200 active members and 25 officer positions, Wilcox Interact dwarfs SHS Interact’s 20 active members and nine officers.

Even so, Wilcox Interact pales in comparison with Wilcox’s largest club, California Scholarship Federation (CSF), which outnumbers it by 100 members. In contrast, SHS CSF has around 10 members.

Some of this disparity comes down to numbers. Nearly 2,000 students are enrolled in Wilcox, whereas only 1,400 students go to Saratoga High.

When Wilcox Interact participates in service activities, a solid 30 people always volunteer, and an additional 20 to 40 students may attend, depending on the event. In comparison, five to 10 SHS students usually attend each event. One of Wilcox Interact’s strengths lies in its diverse offering of opportunities.

“We have a wonderful community events coordinator at our school, and she gets us into places such as cancer walks and the JW House,” Matteson said. “Plus, we always have our annual events like coin wars, caroling for cans and trick or treating for UNICEF.”

Still, the hard work does not detract from the fun and inviting atmosphere the club is proud of. Interact’s president, junior Ashley Wong, credits the club’s culture and growth to its enthusiastic officer team.

“Officers have to love [the club], since it inspires others to fall in love with it as well,” Wong said. “They set the club’s tone for the year. Their excitement lures general members to strive to be [like officers] and to inspire the uninspired!”

Matteson added that club members are very open with one another.

“We don’t have cliques at all in Interact. [Regardless of] classes, grade point averages, grade levels [and whether you think] the dress is white and gold or blue and black, no matter what we accept you,” she said.

Similar to Wilcox Interact, Saratoga’s Interact club serves as an opportunity for students to connect with each other. Junior Felicia Hung, vice president of the club, says that while SHS Interact does have cliques, which is problematic, the members are working toward resolving this issue.

“The officers are a lot closer, but members don’t really go out of their way to meet new people. It’s just a little cliques inside of the classrooms, which is bad,” Hung said. “But we are working to bring everyone together and its working.”

To others, the club culture varies depending on how involved the members want to be. According to SHS sophomore Eric Wang, most people view Interact as a relaxed club, though for others this is not the case.
Even so, Wang feels that the club is a tight-knit community with an inviting atmosphere.

“Because Interact is international and the district of Interact in California is the largest, I've actually gotten to learn a lot about this club and meet countless new people,” Wang said. “I don’t have a word to describe the culture, but to me, Interact is family.”

Milpitas UNICEF: Success beyond numbers

One club that shares more similarities with those at Saratoga may be Milpitas High School’s UNICEF. Club members meet each week to plan fundraisers and events related to the international UNICEF organization’s monthly topics such as World Water Month and Trick or Treat in the past.

Despite having only 10 members, Milpitas UNICEF has accomplished more than most clubs at SHS through its committed officer board and efficient meetings.

“Planning activities makes members more involved with the club,” said senior Bill Truong, Milpitas UNICEF’s president. “The more involved [students] are, the more likely they will stay.”

By working with UNICEF clubs from more than 12 other schools in the Bay Area, the 10-member organization has managed to raise more money in one fundraiser than most clubs at Saratoga raise in one year.

These fundraisers culminate with the club’s annual Snowflake Ball. According to Truong, the ball raised over $2,200 for their cause, Strength For Syria, which will help those affected by the war in that country.

The success from this collaboration may serve as an example of how Saratoga High can still work with its smaller population to produce more meaningful clubs. In fact, SHS Unicef has already begun to work with several other schools, including Lynbrook and Cupertino High School.

According to SHS UNICEF’s club president, sophomore Naman Sajwan, the schools have grouped together to create flyers for joint events and to discuss ideas for future collaborative fundraisers, including a ball similar to the Snowflake Ball.
“Collaborating with other schools is a huge benefit, considering not only the massive [number] of customers we get but also the attention we bring that follows with specific causes we try to advocate [for] on the behalf of UNICEF,” Sajwan said.

What lessons can we learn?

While esteemed for quality academics, certain areas of Saratoga High’s club culture fall short of the vibrant atmosphere apparent at certain schools. Part of this stems from the schools’ sheer numbers, and another part lies in students’ overall dedication to their organizations.

Yet even if SHS students are unable to invest as much time in their clubs, they can still look to the influence of clubs at other schools for inspiration. The members of successful organizations have taken approaches ranging from the guidance of upperclassman to the coordination of activities with other schools. With more commitment, structure and purpose, SHS clubs might too find themselves frequently posting photos, with dozens of students in matching T-shirts and grinning with pride.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Saratoga Falcon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *