It’s like a circular story where one thing leads to another, and you never know what will happen next. Students say that is their experience with Colorado Academy’s Middle School Clubs Program.
Acting Club leader and sixth grader Genevieve Howard says she expects to learn a whole host of things through the experience: “I think I might learn how to build stronger trust and friendships. I might learn how to be a good leader. I might discover how everyone handles problems, and … I might discover a hobby that I want to share with other people.”
Students get the option of sponsoring a club based on their own area of interest. There are 15 to 20 middle school clubs each trimester, ranging from Circus Club to Innovations to Computer Code and Jewelry Making. Student leaders are responsible for planning activities and for organizing meetings. Each club also has a faculty sponsor.
Says seventh grader Christian Stevens, “ One advantage I see is trying something that you would not normally have a chance to do… Computer coding is not an everyday thing. You don’t go home and say to your parents, ‘I’m going to go code.Another advantage is that you also learn stuff that you don’t really learn in an regular class.”
Middle School Principal Bill Wolf-Tinsman says those are the kinds of testimonials you want to hear. “This is an opportunity for students to explore their interests, try something new, develop confidence, and enjoy learning … in a very safe atmosphere,” he says. The robust program emerged directly from the goals in CA’s Strategic Plan centered on student leadership and exploration. Club options have included everything from Fingerboarding and High Finance to Debate, a Bear Grylls Club, Knitting, and Sports Medicine.
“The variety of clubs is amazing and allows students to express their creativity,” says seventh grader and Circus Club Co-Leader Alex Kim. “The clubs program provides an opportunity for students to sign up and take the chance to participate in something they haven’t tried yet.”
The club selections are a combination of student-generated ideas and those offered up by the Middle School faculty. “It is a true combination of student-offered sessions combined with some topics that adults may think are important for students to have the opportunity to be exposed to, but are not necessarily found in our curriculum,” says Wolf-Tinsman. Club offerings are presented at a Town Hall Meeting, and then sign-ups take place in the Middle School lobby. Says sixth grade student Kendall Beall, “I think it is great because they are giving kids a chance to explore their passions and to try to be a leader.”
Seventh grader Bloem van den Berg says, “For a lot of people starting a club is stepping out of their comfort zone and doing something they haven’t done before. I remember last year I started Circus Club, and I was new to CA. I didn’t know what would happen or if people would judge me for showing them what I could do, and the exact opposite happened. My club was one of the most popular, and it was a big success. After that, I didn’t regret anything; I had a great trimester. I have not only gained better circus skills over time, but I also gained leadership skills that I didn’t have before. I encourage other people to start their own club and teach people about what they like to do!”