Clubs at Agora
When High School Assistant Principal Holly Allen arrived six years ago, she made a goal to expand Agora’s club offerings and provide additional support. After five years and fantastic growth for the clubs, Holly and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Anne Butler made a conscious effort to grow the program at the middle and elementary school levels too. They researched studies and opportunities, and last August, met with advisors from Agora schools at all levels to share a presentation on the direction of clubs at Agora.
Constantly strategizing, Dr. Butler and Holly believe that the additional structure and increased focus on bolstering clubs creates an environment that benefits students academically and socially—and sets them up for additional leadership opportunities. “These clubs grow self-esteem, increase school engagement, and promote positive peer-to-peer interaction and socialization,” said Allen. “Agora teachers are not just volunteering to take time out of their day. The effort they put in truly benefits Agora students.”
Agora’s focus in high school is on student-led clubs. Any high school student can start a club, and with a staff member willing to facilitate, they can experience an incredible opportunity to build leadership skills and set themselves up for future success. Clubs must be available to all grade-level-appropriate students, and a few—like A Time for Christ and Chess—include both middle and high school students. Plus, the National Honor Society and its junior associations allow for students in all three schools to participate.
Nearly 1,000 students participated in over 40 clubs last year, and a fall club fair introduces new students to all that Agora has to offer. Clubs meet at least once a month during a noon lunch break or at the end of the school day. Clubs are such a great benefit because they can also be an extension of the career exploration that takes place through Agora’s 80 electives. From Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) to HOSA Future Health Professionals, opportunities to explore potential careers continue to emerge.
Perhaps the most important element of clubs at Agora is the socialization aspect. “During the pandemic, when others couldn’t socialize and activities ceased, Agora’s clubs kept going. Just as our educational offerings have continued uninterrupted for 17 years, so too have the clubs, and that consistency has a great impact on Agora students,” said Allen. “In addition to the leadership and lessons learned on respect and responsibility that come with clubs, Agora advisors are constantly sharing examples of socialization success. Students truly expand their horizons and learn to fly. A club like Random Acts of Kindness at Agora (RAKA) extends even further into the Agora community, emphasizing compassion and social etiquette, attributes that are carried through life.”
Agora staff who volunteer their time are special people with a love for the clubs they oversee, and that is felt by the students who participate. Looking at some of Agora’s most popular clubs, the Arts and Crafts Club is enjoyed by many elementary school students. National Elementary Honor Society begins in fourth grade, sending students along an NHS path that they can follow throughout their Agora journey.
Highlighting the 12 middle school clubs is Let’s Get Cooking, which can lead into the high school Cooking Club along with the Culinary Arts elective. Other middle school clubs include the Harry Potter Reading Club, the Agora Post Newspaper Club and Girls Who Code.
Clubs offer even more opportunities in high school, as 29 choices are presented. Agora high school students hit their leadership stride in these years, and club participation helps students with personal growth and building resumes. High school students are very enthusiastic about the Gaming, Anime and Photography clubs.
Jamie Pratt, Agora Club Advisor, knows how valuable clubs can be. “No matter how many, or how few of students might have joined a specific club, they all provide an opportunity for those students to pursue their passions with others that have the same interests.”