South’s newest clubs thrive, grow

Emily Bauer, staff reporter

With over 80 clubs, Glenbrook South is wired with diversity in activities. Whether it be cooking, juggling, or anime, there are many options available to South students. However, some students still saw room for growth and the creation of more clubs in the 2016-2017 school year.

Students Organized Against Racism, SOAR, has changed different aspects to the club since the beginning of the year, according to Emily Ekstrand, Social Studies Teacher. The main focus of SOAR has become identifying racism and solving common racial issues students face at South, says Ekstrand.

“Last year, [SOAR] started as a group that was calling itself Latino Leadership and it was all Latino kids who were getting together to talk about issues that Latinos face here at Glenbrook South,” Ekstrand said. “But through our conversations, the kids were realizing that it was part of a much larger discussion about how people of color navigate this school system.”

Starting out as just a discussion-based weekly meeting, SOAR’s goals began to grow and they are now initiating events that promote their message outside of South, according to Ekstrand. Beginning with their Butterflies Movement to humanize immigrants, club participants are now taking part in non-violence training in which they learn how to handle situations using peace in a similar way to Martin Luther King Jr., according to SOAR member Lesly Zavala. According to Zavala, they even want to implement non-violence training into South’s curriculum.

“There’s this thing called non-violence training, and there are two different locations,” Zavala said. “[One is in] in Chicago with this lady who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and a few of our kids from the club went down there and they did two days of non-violence training, and they got a certificate as certified peace-warriors. They are able to identify any type of micro-aggression or racism throughout schools. Other kids went to a training down by Northwestern and got certified, so we have certified students who know how to identify and figure stuff out in case of problems at school.”

When not planning events to spread their message, the club discusses possible solutions that could help with identifying the common racism that occurs not only at South but everywhere, as stated by Zavala. The specific topic differs each meeting, but it always relates to race and the treatment of others, according to Ekstrand.

“When we’re not planning to do things, we have really good discussions about things that either go on in school or things that we see around society, how they affect us, and what we can do to improve that,” Zavala said. “We talk a lot about how to improve situations that we’ve lived through or that we’ve seen around us in our community.”

Similarly to SOAR, the Junior State of America (JSA) Club has made tremendous progress ever since its creation in September, according to Tara Tate, Social Studies Teacher of AP Government and the Argumentation and Debate Classes. She describes the club as a student-run initiative where students are able to debate interesting current event topics in an informal, no-pressure atmosphere.

“It’s a way for students that are interested in current events, interested in social justice issues, to have an avenue to discuss those issues in a somewhat informal debate setting,” Tate said. “Certainly students might be doing some reading before that, but it doesn’t involve research.”

So far, JSA has conducted a few events at South, with effective results. According to Tate, throughout the winter season the club held a coat drive as a service learning project which resulted in many gently used coats being donated to a homeless shelter in Chicago.

“The coat drive was more successful than we ever anticipated,” Tate said. “The amount of coats we got exceeded our expectations, which was great.”

Continuing the discussion-based trend, the new club and worldwide organization Pencils of Promise involves the debate of and taking action in compelling issues in the world, but instead it revolves more around education, according to English Teacher Sandy Mulligan. The organization’s founder, Adam Braun, wants to provide resources for children around the world who do not have access an excellent education because of the lack of resources in their respective region, says Mulligan.

“Our club wants to come alongside [the Pencils of Promise Organization] and raise awareness and funds for children who are in under resourced and impoverished areas around the world because we feel like kids deserve a solid education,” Mulligan said.

The club’s main belief is that everyone deserves the right to a proper education with all of its benefits, says member Yenny Ha.

“Education is so vital to a child’s life and the best thing we can do is help them get education in a safe environment,” Ha says.