Extracurricular Excitement

Students, staff elaborate on importance of school involvement

Extracurricular Excitement

Most students at Blue Valley are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity, whether it be music, journalism, an academic honor society or a game club. 

Every club brings the opportunity for students to become part of a community. Not only do extracurricular activities often look good on college applications, they inevitably bring students closer to each other in ways they wouldn’t expect. 

Without these opportunities for students to interact with one another, they wouldn’t connect and meet new people, nor could they find new hobbies they enjoy. School clubs are important for the growth and development of high school students just like their academic courses are.

Cultivating Culture

Although there are various established organizations and athletics within Blue Valley, it is difficult to ensure all students’ interests are represented. Because of this, it is common for students to form new clubs with which they resonate more closely. 

Of these newly formed groups is the Asian American Association, with junior Josselyn Bui as its co-president. 

“The Asian American Association was started last year during second semester, and it was [formed by] me and Ella Lim, who’s the other co-president,” Bui said. “We created the club with the intention of teaching others and spreading the joy that comes from different cultural holidays, traditions or the country in general to the people of Blue Valley.”

Lacking a community for the Asian Americans of BV, Bui said the club gained traction quickly.

“A lot of Asians were interested in it, and a lot of non-Asians were interested in it because there isn’t a very good representation of Asian American culture in the education system,” she said. “There’s a lot of misrepresentation, and there’s a lot of people interested in sharing their culture, so we decided to create a club to do that efficiently.”

The club often takes part in various Asian holidays and strives to make sure an array of Asian cultures are being represented.

“[We celebrated] Diwali, and we’re planning on doing Lunar New Year-based things,” Bui said. “We have events where you can make or try different foods, we had a picnic and we also had a spring roll wrapping event, so it’s a lot of different things that we do. We [also] have things called country chapters, which is where students sign up to represent and plan events for specific countries like India, Vietnam or South Korea.”

Aside from participating in activities, the club also encourages a family dynamic where people are able to share their experiences as an Asian American.  

“Other than just teaching about different countries, there’s also a lot of people that have similar cultural experiences — having a space where you can talk about those and knowing there’s other people out there that have been through things like you, it creates a strength system,” Bui said. “During difficult times, we’ll all talk about similar struggles we’re having or fears we face just based on our background or past experiences. It creates a strengthened community — it’s almost like a brother or sisterhood type of thing.”

Housing and encouraging acceptance is a primary value the club is built upon.  

“It’s more about giving an identity and a community to Asian Americans in the Blue Valley district and letting them know they have a community there to support them and represent them,” Bui said. “The Asian Americans are part of Blue Valley, and we work together in tandem.”

Although the club is centered around Asian Americans, people of all ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to join.

“This club is open to anyone who’s interested in learning about Asian American culture or Asian countries in general,” Bui said. “We don’t have any limits on race. Even if you are Asian American and you don’t know that much about your culture, it’s open to anyone who’s willing to learn.”

Under New Management

The Horticulture Management Club is a group of people who meet to discuss their love of plants, as well as how to get more of them into the school. Following the graduation of the former president, junior Ethan Oppold was elected. 

“I joined last year [and] meetings consist of when you walk in, you shake hands with everyone,” he said. “Then we have a presentation, and we talk about how much we love plants. Then at the end, we usually have a quiz or something, and we say our plant prayer.”

Following the club’s adoration of plants, the same goes for the sponsor, Spanish teacher Steven Dean. 

“I have a thing for, as you know, bonsai trees,” Dean said.

Though the presentations vary in topic, they all stay on theme: plants. 

“Last year, we had one called judgment day like Terminator,” Oppold said. “We wore suits, and we had a Hawaiian day.”

Oppold wants to keep the charm of the club from before and has chosen to not change much.

“I want the club to remain basically the same,” he said. “We love plants.”

Despite Oppold’s love of the way the club is, Dean had a different idea of what the group’s purpose was when he was brought on as the sponsor. 

“I assumed this had something to do with plants,” Dean said. “That’s not really what it is. What it’s really about is having fun and doing it in a silly way. That is supposed to be about plants, but it really isn’t at all.”

Oppold feels the bar is high due to the last president. 

“I can’t fill the shoes of legends,” he said. “I’m just trying my best to be like them.”

Oppold plans to have more meetings and events in the future, but being caught up in other activities, he hasn’t had much of a chance yet. 

“I’m involved in band and cross country,” he said. “It’s over now, so I have a lot more free time to do actual horticulture stuff, so look out for that.”

With only one meeting so far, the club has taken a hit in numbers. Due to graduates from last year and a lack of available time, fewer people have attended. 

“It was not nearly as big as it was last year when we had Tiger Paws,” Dean said. “I’m hoping with the changes we’re having where we can have club meetings during academic support time, more people can come.”

Oppold encourages anyone interested in joining to stop in for a meeting and give it a try. 

“If you like plants, I would join,” he said. “It’s very welcoming. We don’t exclude. We just find an atmosphere that everyone enjoys. I want it to stay like you’re not forced to go there. You want to be there.” 

New Club: Classic Literature Club

Where: Room 405

When: 3rd Wednesday of every month

Student Leader: Kayvon Fardipour, 11

“It’s exploring classical literature through discussion. Right now it’s more of a Socratic seminar format, but that can easily change and evolve based on our needs. It’s a nice place to just meet up and talk about what we’re reading.”

New Club: Red Cross Club

Where: Room 224

When: once a month

Student Leader: Tashleen Thiara, 10

“[Red Cross] is a national organization to help make the world and humanity a better place. We are one of the five clubs in Kansas, and it’s such an interesting thing. It’s a great place to start helping out your community, raise awareness for less talked about subjects and add to your volunteer hours.”


Sponsoring Students

With the new designated time created for clubs to meet during Advisory, club sponsors have opened their rooms to students. 

Over the years many teachers across BV have been approached by various staff and students about being a club sponsor. Math teacher and Cornhole Club sponsor Tyler Randall has created a fun atmosphere for students to relax and decompress at school. 

“I have a great passion for yard games,” Randall said. “A few students saw me playing with [Jonathan] Jost and asked if I wanted to be the club sponsor, so it just seemed to fit because I love cornhole.”

Special education teacher and Jewish Student Union sponsor Eli Kanarek was appointed by a coworker. 

“The former sponsor was an English teacher — she asked me when she [left] if I would do it,” Kanarek said. “I’m Jewish, so she thought I’d do that for sure.” 

Science teacher and Diversity Club sponsor Manal Wiedel has been a sponsor of this well-established club for many years. 

“When I started teaching, which would have been 16 years ago, the assistant principal at the time knew my involvement with an organization that worked toward social justice around diversity, equality and inclusion,” Wiedel said. “She asked me if I would be comfortable being a sponsor.”

Club sponsors often find rewarding experiences from involvement in the clubs. 

“It’s the dialogue happening between club members,” Wiedel said. “It’s awareness of topics we are knowledgeable of but never really had the space to be able to talk and hear other sides — having a healthy conversation.”

Randall wants to provide a chance for students to be “silly” in their young age.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to interact with other students and have a brain break and an opportunity to relax,” he said.

Kanarek also loves how inclusive Blue Valley students are.

“Seeing Jewish kids and not Jewish [together] — everybody feels like their friends and anyone can come to [the] club,” he said. “It’s great to see young people comfortable in their school.”

Although the sponsors often sit in the background of meetings and add in thoughts or conversations every once in a while, they have more of a responsibility than given credit for. 

“I’m pretty much a logistics coordinator,” Kanarek said. “I, first of all, provide the space — then I provide the background. I have to get approval from administration, I supervise to make sure it’s appropriate for school. I also work with the president of the club to make sure we are having meetings.” 

Business teacher and BV Business sponsor Kathy Peres works hard year round to teach students the best way to win competitions and how to be a good business professionals. 

“[We are] preparing [students] for a future career and building skills that would be needed in every job,” Peres said. “It’s also validating a future professional. I’m not training kids to go into the business world, per se, but the skills that would help [students] go into any industry they want.”

Kanarek said clubs are a great way to unwind and meet school peers.

“Kids can feel they’re a part of the school,” he said. “Everybody can come and embrace who they are ­— it’s fun.”

The club sponsors encourage students to join clubs for differing reasons, but they all want to make students feel comfortable and grow as a young adult.

“Just to start getting those public speaking skills and learning about themselves,” Peres said. “It’s a good [club] to see if you are on the right track and are doing the right things to be ready for that. It’s a great way to get involved for all grades.”