Clubs stay active despite distance learning

Keianah Weakland

A big role in many high school students’ lives includes clubs, sports, and socializing. Joining clubs is a great way to meet new people, gain experience in volunteer service, and can be used on college applications. SHS offers many clubs including Speech and Debate, Robotics, Pioneer Digital Media and Drama Club.

These are just a few clubs that have been holding meetings and sponsoring activities. Due to distance learning, students have been learning from home for the past year, which has also caused clubs to resort to having to hold meetings via a Google Meet. Several clubs have missed out on many events and activities that are very important for the community. 

While schools are returning to in-person instruction through hybrid learning, students are curious if clubs will also be returning to in-person meetings. This is uncertain, but there is hope for clubs.

“Some clubs will resume in person meetings for specific activities. Students must leave school after classes at 12:25 p.m. and clubs/activities may not meet until 3 p.m.. Hosting in-person meetings would likely be difficult because students would have to find transportation back to school,” Vice Principal Sarah Dorn said.

Clubs have been participating in as many virtual events as they can to keep club members active. Speech and Debate just won their first ever District Championship and 10 of the 12 members have qualified for the State Tournament next month.

“I am incredibly happy to have been a part of the team that finally took the championship. Our team has been working hard for the last four years, and I was really hoping to see us take the title before I graduated. Thanks to some fantastic coaching from Mr. Meyers and a highly skilled and dedicated team, that wish became a reality,” senior and Captain of the Speech and Debate Team Molly Izer said.

Speech and Debate has been holding club meetings on a regular basis to help students prepare for competitions. They have been focusing on “discussing current events, fine tuning speeches, and performing for each other,” Izer said. Although holding virtual meetings and competitions has presented some obstacles for club members. 

“The most important part of performing is learning to read an audience. This year, kids had to learn to make a performance appealing even without personalizing their content to each audience,” Izer said.

Students are preparing to compete in the State Tournament both on their own and as a team. Club members who are competing in asynchronous events will send in videos that will be judged by the state judges. Students competing in debate, impromptu, or extemp, will be competing synchronously by using their computers and web cams from home. 

Robotics Club held the first in-person robotic event in the state of Oregon on March 20. This was a huge opportunity for the Robotics Club after having to compete in Skills events and Live Remote Tournaments virtually all season. The first place team won their final match by six points and second place team won the Excellence award. This was a great way to end the season given that this was the senior members’ last high school robotics competition of the year. The last two finalists were both Sandy teams. 

Distance Learning has taken its toll but some clubs have actually flourished during this time. Pioneer Digital Media (PDM) club is an example of a club that has been tremendously successful over this past year. So far, PDM has successfully produced the fifth episode of Piocast, and has started live streaming sporting events, which will continue throughout the year on There are five PDM club students that attend each game: multiple camera operators, a director in the studio, someone running graphics, and a runner/ assistant. They work together to work their professional setup with cameras, a live on-screen scoreboard, instant replay, and commentators.

“We’ll be competing in a few contests in the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference this year. As well as competing in the Digital Cinema and Photography contests. We’re also opened a merch store and it can be found at It’s student-run and the designs are created by students in the Digital Media program,” PDM club adviser and Digital Design teacher Andrew Schaffer said.

With the help of the DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) Club, PioGear has been created and launched. DECA has been holding weekly virtual club meetings this year and has been working with PDM on their business startup PioGear. 

“This has been a great opportunity that has given our club members valuable experience in starting a school-based enterprise (business) with another club where we team to come up with ideas on marketing, management and product development. SHS students and teachers are putting what they’ve learned in to practice in creating designs for our products and running business operations,” DECA club adviser Nick Mato said. 

Due to virtual schooling this year, DECA members have missed out on many opportunities the club typically is involved in. In the fall, DECA usually participates in the Jordan Brand Believe to Achieve conference where students go to Nike World Headquarters to attend the event. In the spring, DECA attends Moda Sports Business Day at the Moda Center where “members of the Portland Trail Blazers/Moda Center staff talk to us about their business operations and careers,” Mato said. Although club members have missed out on these annual events, they are still preparing for other club activities.

“We’ve also been taking time to prepare for the DECA State Career Development Conference (SCDC) where students come together to compete against one another in various activities such as role plays, business plans, etc. that are then judged by business professionals around the state. This year we had two students that placed highly at the conference and may be eligible to participate in the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC),” Mato said.

Key Club has also been having frequent meetings over Google Meet about every other week. Club members have been playing virtual games and doing virtual activities as a group. During the holidays, they made holiday cards to be delivered throughout the community with the Sandy Library. 

Once hybrid learning begins, the club plans on keeping virtual meetings, but will hopefully be able to participate in in-person activities. They are already working on cleaning the athletic fields and stadiums at SHS and are hoping to be able to help with other events.

“Our biggest spring activity has been the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt that is held at Meinig Park each year. Because of COVID-19 it was cancelled last year, and this year has to be modified to a drive-through event. Although it is not an official Key Club event this year, we hope to be able to lend support in some way,” Key Club adviser Tara Finnegan said.

As for other clubs, the Band/ Instrumental Music club is currently making music through recordings with the help of SHS ensembles and have many plans for returning to in-person instruction. By using a music program called Band Lab, students are able to record their audio and put it into the program which matches students’ audio and the backing track of songs. This allows for the Band to create an entire song performance from home. With students returning to school, the drumline plans to play during soccer games.

“When we come back to school we have the band room in a socially-distanced set up, and the state says that students can play their instruments while not having to wear masks when we are sitting in our seats. We plan on doing some small ensemble work as well as attempting to make a whole band piece involving both cohorts. We also plan on preparing for graduation, however that may not occur,” senior and Band Council President McKenna Rattray said.

Drama club is planning on having a full show by mid April to perform for parents, staff members, and students. As well as another performing arts club, Vocal Music club has been creating virtual acapella pieces that include the Pionaires and Counterpoints ensembles. They have completed “Stand By Me” and will be performing “Shaboom” next.

Clubs have been making the most of their experiences this year while attending virtual meetings and competitions. As students are returning to school for hybrid learning, some clubs are trying to hold in-person meetings or events.

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