How to start a club in high school
Why I, a high school senior, decided to write “How to start a club in high school”
After reading many guides created for how to start an after-school program, it is clear there is a lack of youth voice in them. Many of these guides are created by adults but as a high school student, I wanted to provide information from my point of view. This guide will provide personal experiences from me, a student who has gone through the process of creating the club and overcoming challenges. My guide will help you how to start a club in high school, from “I want to make a club” to “I am actually running a club.”
My guide for how to start a club in high school
Permissions | The first step for how to start a club in high school
You’re trying to find information about how to start a club in high school. Know that before even starting the club, there might be forms that you have to fill out with your school in order to establish your club. Sometimes schools will require that parents of club members sign a parent consent form saying that the parent allows the child to be in your club. Also, typically only students at your school can be a part of your club. There are also probably restrictions on outside people that you can bring into the school to be at your club.
When and where is the club | The second step for how to start a club in high school
An important step if you are wondering about how to start a club in high school is to think about the room you will end up in. Usually, the sponsor that you end up with is the room that you are going to be holding your club in. Sometimes it is difficult to find a sponsor so you might end up in a room you don’t want. In this case, you should plan ahead for what you will do to make your room situation better. It is important to think about where your club is going to be held because if your club is meeting in the library it might be harder to get club members engaged if you guys have one small table to meet at, versus if you were in a classroom and you have more space.
How to secure a sponsor to start a club in high school | The third step for how to start a club in high school
Initiative and motivation are key for how to start a club in high school. For the club I started it was difficult to secure a sponsor and I was in charge of doing that. What I did to first try to secure a sponsor was I bcc emailed all of the teachers at my school asking if they could sponsor our club.
From that, I only got a teacher who could do Wednesdays, but me and the other students I was starting the club with wanted to do it both Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I then compiled a list of teachers who did not respond to my email and went to my counselor to ask her for the room numbers of these teachers so I could ask them if they could sponsor my club two days. However, she said it was against the rules to give me these room numbers and have me go around to all these classrooms asking teachers to sponsor my club. However, compiling this list is still worth a try if you have teachers who you haven’t gotten a response from. I then asked my counselor if library assistants, lunchroom aids, and security guards could sponsor clubs because I wasn’t sure and I hadn’t emailed these people since it seemed like only teachers could sponsor clubs. She said that yes those people could, so I bcc emailed all of these people, and was able to find a sponsor, who was the library assistant. She was able to sponsor my club for the two days! If I wasn’t motivated to ask my counselor if library assistants could sponsor clubs, I probably wouldn’t have a sponsor for both days.
How to prevent your club leaders from leaving | Something to keep in mind for how to start a successful club in high school
My previous co-leaders and I were mostly talking about logistics up until the start of September and we hadn’t gotten far on any sort of curriculum. At the start of September, the two students responsible for helping me make the web development curriculums for my website development club dropped out, telling me they would be too busy with other extracurriculars. One of the students also said he dropped out due to team dynamic and said I act robotic sometimes. I blame myself for this because I should have taken more initiative by reaching out to the website developer I work for so he could help us with getting something going. I feel like having something going would have motivated them to stay. I was stressed because they were talking about dropping out and I realized I should not let my emotions affect how I act because personality is a factor in people’s motivation. You also should make sure that people are upfront about their availabilities from the start because I did not ask this for one of my club members and I had no idea she had interfering extracurricular obligations.
How to market for leaders and participants | The fourth step for how to start a club in high school
Again, initiative is important for how to start a club in high school. I got one of my co-presidents by just going up to him and asking him to Co-Lead with me. I also recruited another potential co-leader (who ended up not being able to run the club with me though) by posting a comment in all of my Google Classroom classes that I was looking for someone to co-lead my website development club with me. You can also post in group chats you have to ask if anyone wants to co-lead with you. Two of the Co-Leaders I am working with now I found by posting in my school’s computer science Discord group chat.
If you’re wondering how to start a club in high school and find club participants, you can put flyers up around the school. There are many free online resources such as Canva where you can create a flyer for your club. On this poster, it is key that you make it colorful to attract potential members. On the flyer, you want to write the name of the club, the days, times, and location your club will meet, and a small summary of your club. Here’s an example of a flyer for my club:
In addition, a lot of schools have a student news email that gets emailed to all the students at your school. You can ask to make a promotional post about your club in the student news. You can also promote your club via social media if you have or know of someone with a large following of people from your school. You can also promote the club by posting in your Google Classroom classes and groupchats.
Before each meeting, create an agenda. Agendas will allow the club to stay on track. A typical agenda would include an icebreaker and a plan for the meeting.
Having a club be unstructured vs. structured | Something to keep in mind for how to start a club in high school
One day when my club was over, I talked to one of my club members outside and I asked her what she thought about the club so far. What she mentioned was that the table situation we had was not ideal because it didn’t encourage collaboration between members and leaders. This showed me that having a club that is fun and where people talk to each other is ideal.
However, having a club be too unstructured can lead to things not getting done. In the first few weeks of my website development club, it was pretty unstructured and people had not gotten that far on their websites. I realized I had to intervene more, ask people how they are doing and ask people if they have any questions. If a club leader is wondering how to start a club in high school and be successful, a club leader should really be intervening when appropriate to move things along because club leaders can’t always expect the club to run itself.
However, having a club be structured does not mean to force club members to do something. People should be able to do what they are interested in. For example, in our club we do not force people to make their own website but we do provide help for people to make their own website.
You can learn about the best extracurricular activities for Ivy League here.