Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

November 23, 2020

Written by William Biersach ’22

Service clubs say a lot about a school. This year, many of Durham Academy’s proud service clubs were unable to operate as they have in the past. These clubs which include, but are not limited to, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Valley Tutoring, Red Cross Club, Durham Nativity School Club, LEAP Club, and WISER serve either our local community, the larger global community, or both. 

It is evident from speaking with their representatives that these organizations profoundly influence the community for the better. For example, the Habitat for Humanity Club consistently used to hold weekend builds where students would help build affordable housing with their own two hands. On the educational front, the Hope Valley Tutoring Club supports local Durham students with a tutoring program composed of the club’s members. Similarly, the WISER club financially supports the WISER school in Kenya to empower females in education and beyond. 

In a survey sent to all of the service clubs, 80% of respondents wrote that they had fewer new people signing up this year than signed up last year. 70% of respondents’ clubs had to find new ways to serve their community or fulfill the club’s mission, and only 10% of responding club representatives said that their club changed in no way because of the pandemic. One thing is for sure, all of these groups look a lot different in the era of face masks and elbow-bumping.

For example, the leader of the Red Cross Club, junior Haley Fogg, said that this year, in the first blood drive, “We had fewer total pints of blood donated. I think a lot of it has to do with people’s health concerns regarding the virus.” 

Fogg also thinks that the fact that they were unable to hold their usual fall assembly reduced turn-out for the first blood drive. She said that, “People get a lot of mass emails, and I don’t think that many people read them. At the assemblies, people listen and ask important questions.” 

In the Red Cross Club’s first blood drive, they were operating at a slightly lower capacity than last year because the beds had to be more spaced out. Fogg wistfully explained that the Red Cross Club was not allowed to provide any homemade snacks or snacks from restaurants. In the past, Red Cross leaders have enticed prospective blood donors with chicken minis, but this year, the Red Cross Club was limited to packaged snacks only. 

In addition to the alimentary precautions and restrictions, the Red Cross Club screened donors for COVID-19 beforehand, which only added to their already arduous task of running a large-scale blood drive during the school day. 

On the tutoring side of service clubs, Durham Academy junior Edward Rogers explained that the Durham Nativity School (DNS) Club, which works to bolster the Durham Nativity School financially and to support students academically and emotionally, is holding online tutoring sessions each Saturday. The DNS Club, created in 2019 and led by Edward Rogers, Maya Caldwell, and Claire McGovern, has not provided tutoring until this year. Unable to visit the students in person, the club aims to have a commensurate effect tutoring online as they would in person. Rogers expects that the club will continue offering tutoring online for the foreseeable future because of its ease and efficacy.

That said, Rogers laments that they aren’t able to establish the same social connection with the students as they have in the past. He explained that in the past, Durham Academy has held a frisbee tournament with DNS and that the Durham Academy Middle School annually invites DNS students to its dances. Although we have been forced to jettison these social opportunities for our health, Rogers says that the tutors begin the tutoring sessions with fun icebreaker activities to foster an atmosphere of jocundity and energy.

Rogers also said that last year the club ran a supply drive to collect school materials for DNS students. He said that the drive was very successful and that he and his fellow leaders plan to have one this year as well. Despite limits on food-based fundraisers, the DNS club is considering other fundraising options such as a car wash or raffle. The club hopes to raise money to help pay for classroom materials, textbooks, and the new learning center in the brand new Durham Public Library. Rogers explained that the new learning center is invaluable for students who have limited internet access at home or need extra supervision.

This year’s club fair demonstrated that, above all, the Durham Academy community’s ardor for club involvement leads students to pursue their interests and to do so even if it means finding a new way to serve. Whether it’s the Red Cross Club spacing out beds or the DNS Club tutoring online, Durham Academy’s service club leaders have adapted to the stringent restrictions to make the best out of a bad situation.

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