St. Francis High School has 60 clubs, Christian Brothers High School has 46 and Jesuit High School has more than 50. But Country Day rarely has more than five, and most don’t last very long. Why do our clubs come and go so quickly? Although the easy answer is that students just lose interest, the reasons are actually more individual and complex. Here are the answers to what really happened to some of the school’s old clubs.
Dungeons and Dragons
The Dungeons and Dragons Club was created by Grant Quattlebaum, ’14, in his sophomore year.
According to the first member, Kevin Rossell, ’14, the purpose of the club was to organize separate Dungeons and Dragons campaigns (a connected series of battles, adventures or scenarios) because each campaign can contain only eight people.
The club’s first meeting was surprisingly popular, Rossell said.
“About 25 people came to that meeting,” he said.
“Mostly guys, though.”
Although the club was initially popular, a majority of the members didn’t continue to meet regularly after its creation, Rossell said.
The only team to regularly meet was headed by former chemistry teacher Alan Beamer, who was the faculty adviser and a member of that team.
Rossell said that the club officially stopped because once all of the individual groups were organized, they no longer needed an overarching club to help them, he said.
People just started going to their individual groups if they wanted to play the game.
The most successful group, which included senior Jaspreet Gill, was able to finish the game.
“The club was a fun pastime with friends, and we made memories that I will never forget,” Gill said.
For the club as a whole to have been more successful, the heads of the individual groups should have been more active, Rossell said.
For instance, near the beginning, the members discussed organizing trips to conventions or overnight gaming sessions at the school.
Over the past few decades, there have been three different car clubs, all of which were advised by history teacher Daniel Neukom.
The first, created more than 20 years ago, was by far the most successful, according to Neukom.
“At the time, there were a number of student car enthusiasts, and we talked about cars all the time,” Neukom said.
This club lasted for around two years while the students attended Country Day. Neukom attributes this success to the heartfelt enthusiasm of the eight or nine members.
Their main purpose was to swap magazines and talk about the latest developments in cars. They also fiddled with cars in the parking lot, Neukom said.
The second car club was created five years ago.
However, this club faded pretty quickly due to the lack of organization and devotion of the students, Neukom said.
“I had—and have—the feeling that the students just wanted to create it so they would have something to put on their college applications, even if they didn’t actually have a lot of interest in the subject of the club,” he said.
Neukom also believes that the club lasted only three meetings because the leaders didn’t take enough responsibility.
“They should plan the meetings and plan things for outside of school, such as going to auto shows, race tracks, car dealerships, or car accessory stores,” Neukom said.
The creation of the third and final club was discussed two years ago when a student asked Neukom if he would be willing to sponsor it again.
“I said yes, but I told them that they would have to be enthusiastic, plan activities and know what to do at the meetings,” Neukom said.
“After that discussion, it was never brought up again.”
Neukom believes that clubs anywhere rise and fall due to student enthusiasm, and that after they run for one or two years, the people that were the most enthusiastic about the club graduate. The club then disappears.
The Chess Club was created by junior Colby Conner in his freshman year.
He created the club because he really likes to play chess and he wanted to know if there were other people in the high school who also enjoyed playing the game.
“I thought that creating a team would allow us to bond over a game that I find fascinating,” Conner said.
Therefore, Conner asked Brooke Wells, head of the high school, to be the faculty adviser.
“Wells really enjoys playing chess too, so he agreed to help me start the club,” he said.
The club had five meetings, with the maximum attendance being five people.
“This was super exciting because clubs aren’t very popular in the high school,” Conner said.
However, because of increasingly busy school schedules, members weren’t able to go to the meetings as frequently as they had in the beginning.
Therefore, Conner made the decision to end it. “It wasn’t worth the hassle if only one other person could do it too,” he said.
Junior Emma Brown said she was disappointed when Chess Club ended.
“I really liked meeting with the group, but I agreed with (Conner)’s decision to stop the club because it was almost impossible to find a time where everyone was free,” she said.
Senior Claire Pinson created the Japanese Club in her sophomore year.
Pinson wanted to teach students about Japanese language and culture. She intended it to be more of a class than a club because there isn’t a Japanese elective or academic class at Country Day.
Pinson also wanted to have a Japanese Club because she had spent a month in Japan the summer before her sophomore year.
“I needed to have an outlet to learn Japanese besides anime with subtitles and monotonous self-study workbooks,” she said.
Teacher Patricia Jacobsen, who spent her junior year of college in Tokyo, advised the club. Jacobsen also lived in Japan for five years, working for the Japanese Ministry of Education as a teacher.
The club, however, was not popular, Pinson said.
“It was partly because I made it very clear that it was supposed to be like a Japanese language and culture class where people would actually have to learn things,” Pinson said.
The club lasted about a year, with as many as four people attending each week. The people who attended the meetings, besides Pinson, were the international students, Pinson said.
Sophomore Kevin Huang was a dedicated member of the club, Pinson said. He joined the club because his friend, freshman Atsuo Chiu, is Japanese. “I wanted to grow closer to (Chiu) by learning Japanese,” Huang said.
The club continued into Pinson’s junior year, but was cancelled because Pinson and Jacobsen were too busy to organize it. Pinson also felt that there wasn’t enough time to teach a language during the lunch periods.
“I was really disappointed, but I understand that other people weren’t as passionate about learning the language,” Huang said.
However, Pinson plans to restart the club in January, since she intends to return to Japan in June for swim training.
She is organizing the trip for six or seven of her teammates.
Previously published in the print edition on Nov. 25, 2014.