Looking For Extracurriculars? Join the Club!

Ewan McInerney, Staff Writer

Youth and Government Club:

Youth and Government Club is part of a YMCA-affiliated program that involves thousands of students nationwide in organized model-government conferences.

Each year, District and State conferences are held, in which members of the club compete against other schools in varying sections. These sections represent different parts of government, including judicial, legislative, executive, appellate and political journalism. The conference is being held virtually this year. 

Senior Violet Koppenhaver said that the Youth and Government program helps to teach students about state and federal government procedures and policies. The aim of the club hosted at LASA, according to Koppenhaver, is to prepare the members for their participation in the statewide Youth and Government conference.

“By putting students in this model government, holding mock trials and mock court sessions, it helps them gain understanding of governmental procedures and policies while simulating government themselves,” Koppenhaver said. “It’s important for students to get to know what’s going on in their government and how it operates and forms new policies.”

LASA’s Youth and Government team meets once a week to prepare for the competition. However, according to junior Harsha Venkataramen, most of the activity occurs outside of the club sessions.

“Usually, in a normal club session, we’ll just check up on how everybody’s doing in preparing for their different sections,” Venkataramen said. “For example, the mock trial teams will meet, and the legislative section will ask how everybody else is doing with bills. Most people actually prepare for the competition by studying in between sessions.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the conferences could not take place in person this year. However, according to senior Pearl Morosky, the club president, participants still get to have some of the opportunities that they would have had in previous years.

“All of the mock trials and legislative committees, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, are conducted over Zoom this year,” Morosky said. “It’s a lot different, but I actually think we’ve been very fortunate. Since we are part of a larger organization that’s doing the legwork in setting the conferences up, people who compete are able to have some of the experience still.”

Newspaper Club:

Newspaper Club allows students to contribute to the Liberator, LASA’s student-run publication, through writing or design and without having to take Newspaper class. According to freshman Rebecca Scaramuzzi, participating in the club allows her more time to focus on her other schoolwork.

“The nice part about Newspaper Club is that me and other members are still able to contribute to the paper if we can and want to, without making a full commitment,” Scaramuzzi said. “I’m a freshman and only have one elective, so freeing up a slot on my schedule means that I am able to be in the club and take another elective, which is really nice.”

The club’s schedule is relatively relaxed, according to sophomore Eva Schwarm. Schwarm said that, while members are expected to sign up to work on parts of the Liberator, the requirements are not as demanding as the elective.

“For most Newspaper Club sessions, we don’t even do that much,” Schwarm said. “You show up to the meeting, and the editors ask how your work on stories or graphics is coming along. For each issue, every six weeks, you can sign up to write a story or create a graphic on a Google Form. If I have a weekend where I’m not that busy, I’ll usually just sign up for a graphic. It’s very nice because you can choose exactly what you want to contribute, and how much, without experiencing the stress of trying to get a certain assignment done by the deadline.”

The district provides club members with access to Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to create graphics and page layouts. According to freshman Kayla Le, the club also provides opportunities to learn valuable skills needed for editing, artwork and journalism.

“Since I’ve joined the Liberator, I’ve created one graphic using Adobe Illustrator,” Le said. “Currently, I’m taking Ezine, which also requires me to use several editing programs made by Adobe, so it’s really nice to be getting extra experience with them from Newspaper Club. Also, I’m planning on taking a lot more classes involving journalism, so getting interviews and writing stories for the club now will be good practice for me.”

Reptile Club:

Reptile Club is a club where students can support and participate in the caring and conservation of reptiles.

Before the events of COVID-19, each club session was devoted to tending to in-class reptiles,  according to senior Mazzy Zimmerman. Zimmerman said members could also volunteer to care for them individually.

“Before the quarantine, we used to actually have reptiles at the school building,” Zimmerman said. “Every Wednesday during lunch, we’d take care of them, clean their cages, feed them and generally just make sure they were doing well. We’d also find them summer homes, and we gave people at LASA the opportunity to sign up to take them home and care for them over breaks.”

Senior Sage Phuepwint, the club’s president, said that Reptile Club still works from home to care for reptiles and other animals through its connections to animal shelters. Over Zoom, the club still discusses facts about reptiles.

“We gave all the reptiles away since we can’t care for them in person right now, but now we do a lot of work making toys to send to animal shelters,” Phuepwint said. “A lot of what the club does now on Zoom is talk about some of the science and history of reptiles. Otherwise, club sessions are a good way to keep in touch with each other and just talk, which is nice because we don’t get to see each other as much now.”
Because of COVID-19, many people travel less, spend more time at home and generally have more time on their hands, Zimmerman said. According to Zimmerman, being quarantined at home has left people with time to devote to their pets.

“Something that we’ve talked about before in Reptile Club is the effect that the quarantine has had on people’s pets, not just with reptiles, but with all animals as well,” Zimmerman said. “I think that people are able to put more energy into caring for the pets they have, and people who are home alone a lot are getting new pets to keep them company as well. The situation has definitely given people opportunities to connect to their pets more.”