About 500 freshmen and sophomores at the Salesianum School filled every nook and cranny of the parking lot Wednesday in the school’s yearly club fair.
The all-boys school in Wilmington requires all ninth and tenth graders to participate in the fair, and most pick at least one to participate in during the school year.
“The clubs get you to meet new people,” said sophomore Jared Hitchens. “You’re able to just really hang out with people who share your interests, which helps a lot because high school is a scary place to come to as a new student.”
Hitchens, who joined the dodgeball and esports clubs Wednesday, said activities away from t he classroom have helped him make friends and is part of the fabric of Salesianum’s brotherhood.
There’s 65 clubs to choose from, for all kinds of interests.
The selection includes clubs for fishing, gaming, guitar, comic books, Pixar movies, culinary arts, scuba diving, mountain climbing, Minecraft, robotics and more.
There’s also classic academic clubs such as Model U.N., Science Olympiad and Mock Trial.
“There’s also a lot of what I call your affinity groups,” said Fr. Brian Zumbrum,” like the Black Student Union, Asian Student Union or Hermanos Unidos.”
Several students signed up for the Alliance Club, which is focused on LGBTQ+ issues and support.
“They are not just students or athletes. They are becoming well-rounded people,” Zumbrum said, “and part of that is discovering your passions and interests, and discovering how to share those interests with others, how to build a community within a community around something you’re passionate about.”
Student club and organization fairs are a common feature at the start of the year in many private high schools and colleges, dating back to British and European schools, and including places like Harvard University.
Salesianum’s clubs are a vital part of student development, Zumbrum said.
He pointed out that an hour of every school day is dedicated as a flex time, for both lunch and for clubs to meet.
“It’s a great way to make friends, since you’re naturally going to be talking a lot with your fellow clubmates,” said freshman Jack Longo, who signed up for the aquarium and dodgeball clubs. “It brings a lot of joy.”
Zumbrum said extracurriculars are an essential part of a student’s journey.
“If most of us look back on our own high school experience, the memories we have most usually were extracurriculars,” he said. “They are memories of the clubs or teams we got involved in that we’re passionate about and spent time together with other guys or gals who shared those similar passions.”
Sophomore Jackson Masterson joked that he signed up for the dodgeball club because he “just likes chucking balls at people.”
He said it’s a great way for students of all grades to interact, since they typically don’t other than in the hallways.
Still, he said he’s looking forward to being the one throwing balls at freshmen this year, a spot he was all too familiar with last year.
“Coming together with those who share our interests will really shape their experience,” Zumbrum said.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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