Stressing the importance of educational clubs

I came into class on the first day after spring break and immediately realized that a few students were not in class. I figured that they were still away or sick and would be back the next class. Instead, I soon found out that the students were in St. Louis for a robotics competition. As it turned out, ASL had won the New York regional that took place before break and were in St. Louis for their first ever international final. Why had there been nearly no mention of the accomplishment while there is so much said about ISSTs and other sports tournaments.

Most students know when ISSTs take place, because the school promotes them. Not only is there an all-school assembly in the days following the tournament, but the school also televises much of it during the school day in the library, commons, and around the school. If a soccer player scores a goal, even during the school day, we know it almost immediately, either through the video stream or by word of mouth. This is not a bad thing. It is important to know what is happening in ASL’s competitions.

The problem is that ASL students do not get those updates about non-sport competitions like robotics. This year, the robotics team went further in the world competition than it ever had before, getting all the way to the international final. They eventually finished 43rd of the 99 teams in St. Louis, a great result for any team, let alone one in St. Louis for the first time in its nine year history. And yet, the tournament went seemingly unnoticed at ASL. There was no all-school email celebrating the robotics team, and there was no assembly or banquet to honor them.

Model United Nations is another club that is faced with challenges and accomplishes much that goes unnoticed by some students. Participants in Model UN take time after school twice a week to write and prepare resolutions for a predetermined debate before going to a conference and debating with other schools. Model UN is not only an excellent opportunity to compete with other schools, but it also involves important skills and ideas like leadership and teamwork. At the end of the conference, some of the most impressive participants win awards. From ASL, Sophie Clark (’16) and Zubin Jotwani (’16) won awards at the last conference, but neither got much attention from the student body.

Recognition from the school and recognition from individual students often go hand in hand. If the school were to raise awareness about robotics and Model UN, some students would change their views about the trips. Many students feel that these trips are unimportant, but with added awareness these students could understand that the trips are vital for both students and the school, and ASL’s society would change. Right now, ASL is very sports-oriented. There is an all-school assembly after each sports season to recognize athletes, and there is a sports banquet after each season. Meanwhile, robotics got less recognition even after having a record-breaking tournament. Model UN is also under appreciated considering the amount of work participants put into preparing for their conferences.

One easy way of giving robotics and Model UN more recognition would be to send an email to all high school students with a quick explanation of what they have accomplished. There could also be an assembly following a robotics competition or Model UN conference, just like there is after each sports season, in order to recognize the accomplishments made by the participants.

The fact that so many people are tuned in to the ASL sports world is encouraging and beneficial. During ISSTs in particular, the attention given to sports is fantastic. We all cheer for ASL’s competing athletes and are able to follow the action from school and celebrate the athletes during the seasonal assembly. Clubs and other educational trips like robotics and Model UN should get similar attention, which would lead to a more well-rounded school atmosphere.

lev_cohen@asl.org

varun_sarup@asl.org