The Debate on One-Semester Clubs

By Sophia Lichterfeld

In past years, club options in the Upper School consisted of 40 student groups that met throughout the whole school year. Last May, however, Collect, the Upper School student government, announced a plan to have certain clubs run for only one semester. This change came based on a suggestion made by Ms. Ramos, who noticed that there were far more club proposals than Collect could pass. 

There are 12 one-semester clubs this year in areas ranging from healthcare to word games. Chloe Chao ’23, president of Collect, said that “for some new clubs, we decided to make them a semester club so that we would hear feedback from club members and decide whether to make them a full-year club next year.” She also hoped students would “have a chance to participate in a broader range of clubs and [get] more leadership opportunities.” 

Amber Renthal ’25 agreed, saying that “having the option to do a club for one semester lets me try out a lot more of the clubs that I wouldn’t have gone to before, and I can jump into new activities halfway through the school year.” Katina Handrinos ’25 appreciated the change too, stating that “as a new head, I was a little nervous, but by committing to only one semester, it felt less daunting.” Sophia Gerogiannis ’23, who heads Math Club in the fall and Scrubs in the spring, added, “I’m really grateful for this opportunity to have both of those clubs run and to not pick one over the other.” She feared that “if there were no semester-long clubs, only one of those clubs would be able to run” since they are in the same room on the same cycle day each semester. 

However, the semester club system seems to have some drawbacks that could be amended in the coming years. Callie Nelson ’24, the head of two spring semester clubs, noted that “it could be difficult to work two club meetings into my schedule, especially at the height of a junior year workload…It is also a bit of a nuisance to start clubs four months after the Club Fair, but we collected emails from those interested and plan to send some emails in January.” 

Members of one-semester clubs share this sentiment. Maggie McDonald ’26, expressing concerns about jumping into full-year clubs in the second semester, commented, “it’s harder to go into a club after it’s been running for a while. It can feel like you missed out, or aren’t able to understand a lot…Being in a semester club also means that there’s less of a chance for bonding, as it’s a shorter period of time.” Remy Kim ’25 agreed, saying, “there is something to be said about the kinds of projects and the extent to which I am able to participate in a longer-term club, an opportunity lost in a one-semester club.” 

Theater Club and Film Club are currently testing out another model that may provide a solution to this trade-off between offering more clubs and maintaining continuity. They are both year-long clubs but alternate their meetings every other cycle. This schedule allows students to participate in both clubs, while also engaging in activities happening year-round, including all Winsor plays and various productions in the Boston area. EG Goel ’23, a head of both Theater and Film Clubs, preferred “meeting less frequently since it gives our members extra time to prepare themselves” and reflect on some prompts relating to the performances. This setup could be adopted by more clubs in the future that have events planned that take place throughout the year but also might benefit from longer windows between meetings. 

Although the club model that works best for each individual club varies, the introduction of semester clubs gives students the valuable opportunity to explore a larger array of interests beyond the classroom. 

Responses edited for brevity.