Tucked away in the corner of the library, a handful of Steinbrenner students circle up to discuss something plenty of teenagers shudder to think of: books. What Steinbrenner’s Book Club lacks in size, it makes up for in passion. A relatively small group, it thrives when most of its members are present. However, attendance in the 2018-2019 school year has made the club’s productivity sluggish.
For the 2018-2019 school year, the club schedule changed: though students still had the opportunity to participate in four clubs, those groups dubbed “interest clubs” would have to meet in the morning rather than in a school day period. This decision was met with many grumbles from students, not just over having to wake up earlier than usual to get to schools right when the doors open, but also because the early time would likely make for patchy club participation.
Unfortunately, they weren’t entirely wrong.
Steinbrenner boasts an abundance of clubs, and each year, the number grows. Yoga, philosophy, songwriting, and even “Star Wars” are just a few of the many subjects covered in Steinbrenner interest clubs. And it’s precisely these clubs that have had to adjust to some changes this year in their meetings.
The Steinbrenner Book Club, for example, has found the change to a morning meeting particularly challenging.
“It’s been a negative change. I get that we need more class time for learning, but it really puts a limit on student involvement in interest clubs,” said Book Club Senator, junior Katie Gilmore. “This is saddening, because the school boasts such a diverse range of clubs to join.”
Student complaints about how rare club days are – once a month, excluding December, May, and probably November, as it’s club photo day and doesn’t allow much time for an actual club meeting – that with new schedule makes it even more challenging to host. Club leaders encounter trouble in attendance and measuring the health of their clubs.
“I can’t tell if it’s due to the club naturally dying out or the new schedule, but attendance is definitely lower than I remember in years past,” said Gilmore.
Book Club isn’t the only group finding the new schedule tough to navigate. Zoë Hunter, a junior who’s been in Art Club since her freshman year, is now the president of the organization. Last year, Art Club took a trip outside of school to paint a mural at a nearby school, but this year they haven’t been able to manage it.
“We don’t have as many members and we aren’t able to do as many activities. We can’t organize events,” said Hunter. “A lot of buses come late, and I’m [on one of those buses]. I’m president, and when I’m showing up with only fifteen minutes left, we can’t really do much.”
Gilmore has also found problems in club members making it to school on time in the mornings. She’s found herself late to the meeting mornings and having to change how she gets to school on club days.
Even if the new club schedule was intended to allow more class time for teachers and students, and a less disruptive day, the difference isn’t noticeable enough to be welcome. Club day schedule is already offbeat, and taking out just one club period during the day doesn’t make much of a difference.
If other interest clubs have still found ways to be productive and provide activities for their members, they are few and far between. Philosophy Club, a group that meets after school that centers around asking questions and finding answers, exploring the different opinions and mindsets of the group. Despite not having an exclusive club period, the club was still able to organize the George Talk, an in-school field trip that allowed students to listen to a variety of student and adult speakers.
The club day adjustment was, in part, due to the time change in the school day as a whole this year. In the previous years, the high school day ran from about 7:33 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year, however, the Hillsborough County school district modified the schedules for elementary, middle, and high schools, pushing the latter an hour later in the morning. While this choice was celebrated by most students, after all, later start times for teenagers are scientifically proven to be much healthier, it did make scheduling a little trickier. Less time every day in class meant even less time on club day, which makes the job of teaching and learning more difficult.
If nothing else, the new club meeting schedule has proven that pursuing individual interests on school time is not a right, but a privilege – one that some Steinbrenner students sorely miss.
Jordyn Dees // Opinion Editor