By Hailey Haddon
As the Coronavirus continues to interfere with our previous way of life, Batavia clubs have adjusted their goals to focus on bringing communities together.
Between mask mandates, Covid testing, and daily symptom checks, Batavia students have become limited in their choice of extracurricular activities. IHSA athletics have been temporarily postponed while classes at Batavia High School have been conducted on a hybrid schedule, allowing groups of students to learn in-person every other day while their remote classmates tune in online. Despite the obstacles, Batavia clubs have provided students with Covid-friendly spaces to socialize and give back to their community.
With digital socialization quickly becoming the new norm, Ecology club and Anime club are striving to maintain a vital sense of community.
“If we don’t find ways to get kids connected and engaged, you’re not getting the full high school experience,” said Elizabeth Faulhaber, the sponsor of both ecology and anime club.
Anime club has relied heavily on Google meets to connect over a shared interest in Japanese culture, while Ecology club has shifted its priorities from sample collecting to science-based passion projects. Members are spearheading an initiative to construct a pond in a Batavia High School courtyard. The structure will serve as a scientific instrument while providing a family of ducks with an improved habitat. Faulhaber predicts the pond will become an attraction for students using the courtyard as a shortcut to and from classes.
She also expressed her hope that the introduction of wildlife will bring the Batavia High School community closer together in a time of great uncertainty. She further displayed her appreciation for the connection-building abilities of these clubs, as well as the importance of maintaining Batavia’s strong community, saying,
“Social/emotional well-being is so important, so I hope we can do more, I really do.”
The National Art Honors Society is feeling the full effects of Covid as their once outdoor, in-person meetings were forced online by the cold weather. With a limited number of volunteer opportunities throughout Batavia, members turned their attention inward to Batavia High School itself. At the beginning of the year, NAHS completed chalk drawings at the Wilson Street entrance for teacher appreciation and made masks for the fall play.
The meetings upheld strict Covid regulations, with sanitation posts for materials and symptom checks for all members. Since adjusting to online meetings, NAHS has introduced a project to share Batavia’s community with Cameroon. Each member will create a portrait of a Cameroonian child to share not only their talents but to spread hope in dark times.
“Our meetings serve as a means to provide some art therapy to our members but also to use our talents to help our community,” said the group’s social media ambassador, Sasha Nahorski. She expressed her excitement at the opportunity to create meaningful art in a time of uncertainty.
Similarly, Best Buddies has moved to completely remote meetings. Mentors dedicate their time to developing fun, online activities for their groups. They listen to music, conduct scavenger hunts, and talk about their interests to connect with students developing social skills.
“Although this isn’t ideal for our club, it is the safest way for us to still meet and have fun,” said freshman member Delia Fulton.
Regardless of the sadness plaguing most clubs over their lost year, members have displayed optimistic perspectives.
“Hopefully the club meetings will be able to move to in-person in the upcoming months, with masks and social distancing,” said Olivia Toronyi, a senior member of Best Buddies. Olivia went on to say that she hopes Best Buddies will have a greater impact on the community in the future but is grateful that the program has persevered despite the obstacles.
“A goal of the club is to create special bonds that will last a lifetime, which many do,” she said. “Overall, it creates great opportunities to interact and grow a partnership.”
As uncertainty continues to prevail, Batavia clubs have reassured their members and communities of their commitment to providing opportunities for togetherness. They have stressed the importance of cultivating relationships, especially during the height of online socialization, and if their current work is any indication, interaction will come easily.