By: Jaclyn Kotora, Editorial Staff (‘23)
As students finally re-enter the building full time, new school clubs are also kicking into gear; clubs are having face-to-face meetings and events for the first time since the emergence of COVID-19. With the new year, many new clubs have been started at Indian Hills High School, creating more opportunities for students to pursue their interests, as well as gain more extracurriculars with peers of similar values and passions.
One of the new clubs this year is Improv Club, created by Indian Hills Junior Leah Renshaw. The club focuses mostly on improvisational and comedic acting, where members watch video clips, play games, and perform with friends. Renshaw shares, “This year, I hope to create a comfortable environment for students to experiment with creativity, and ultimately, play around… you only need to do what you are comfortable with, whether it is sitting and laughing with others, or getting up and performing yourself. Improv is unexpected, exciting, creative, emotional, and a lot of fun!”
Mountain Biking Club is another new club this year, giving students the chance to meet with others of similar interests, practice some basic skills, and then ride the Indian Hills and Ramapo trails together all year round. The club is open to experienced and new riders, and everyone is provided with bikes and helmets, along with coaching by the district club advisors, Coach Russo (Ramapo) and Coach Burton—both experienced riders. Coach Burton expresses that the objective of the club is to “learn some new mountain bike skills, experience fun and invigorating bike rides around campus, meet new friends, and enjoy and appreciate the beauty and nature of our trails.” For interested riders looking for more, Ramapo-Indian Hills ‘Blaze’ MTB Team is looking for riders for the mountain biking season that starts in March.
For students looking for a relaxing club to hang out with peers, Gaming Club welcomes all grade and experience levels to join on Thursdays. Club President and founder Ryan Steenvoorden, a Senior at Indian Hills, shares, “I wanted to try to create a comfortable area, to make friendships and play together… Doing weekly affairs is good social interaction and is where I find myself relating to the other people around me. It is a place for everyone, as we are an open community that hopes to invite more people to come.” Steenvoorden aims to implement gaming tournaments, playing against teams such as Ramapo.
Chess Club has started to meet every Tuesday, giving members a fun yet competitive environment to improve their chess skills alongside friends. Eric Zaks, one of the club presidents, started the club with Evan Novelli and James Pisacane to provide an outlet at school for people to engage with chess on a more competitive level. Zaks explains, “Every week, we teach chess strategy including the likes of openings and endgames before having our members engage in recreational games with each other. We also host tournaments for our participants to be a part of with prizes and rewards to win. We analyze chess games and watch documentaries as well as go over the history of the game. In the next few months, we are planning on setting up an event between our club and Ramapo’s chess club.”
In addition, music lovers of all genres have another club to join, called Music Appreciation Club. Club advisor, Ms. Ferrara, shares, “The best way I can describe the group is by saying it is like a book club for music. Every month we pick a genre to dive into, and every week we pick 1-2 albums to listen to and talk about. We talk about our favorite songs, the album art, what the meanings of the songs are, and what we maybe did not like so much.”
The Wellness Club, which also started this year, meets once a month to discuss the mental health and wellness topics that are of interest to the members. Here, members can participate in fun activities while also learning and sharing helpful wellness tips. Ms. Cuffe, the teacher advisor for the club, states, “Our goal is to provide awareness and advocate for students at Indian Hills struggling with their mental health. Another goal is to educate members on health and wellness topics that affect the IH community and society as a whole.” Recently, the club created a Wellness poster to hang up in the cafeteria with ideas on how to incorporate wellness into one’s everyday life. The emergence of this club places more emphasis upon student and staff mental health and wellness, creating a safe environment for students to discuss one of the most relevant and important subjects of life.
Extracurricular activities at Indian Hills prove to be one of the greatest aspects of our community; they allow students to create bonds with peers, increase topical knowledge, and explore personal interests. The flexibility for students to create new clubs based upon shared interest is unique to this district and creates a diverse pool of clubs for everyone.