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Nov. 17, 2011

It takes two: when clubs work together, everyone benefits

by Claire Koenig, Print Managing Op/Ed Editor
It's in the symbiotic give-and-take of the natural world and the mutually beneficial handshake-deals executed in thriving businesses. In the bonds of a healthy marriage and the well-tuned chords of a veteran rock band. Cooperation works - just ask a few of Blair's clubs.

Recently, Blair's organizations have risen above and beyond the call of duty. Not only have they been promoting their own interests, but they are also creating a new sense of unity by banding together with other groups that share a common goal to tackle projects together. This 'club-doubling' phenomenon is not new to Blair, but the efforts seem invigorated this year.

The Spanish Honor Society co-hosted the Silver Quill open mic in September. The Jewish Culture Club is organizing a meeting with Blair representatives from Operation Understanding D.C., a group promoting discussion between African American and Jewish student leaders. Students for Global Responsibility is planning an AIDS awareness day in conjunction with the Gay Straight Alliance in December.

These projects will take time and funding, and oftentimes working with strangers is more tedious than we give it credit for. But ultimately, the new experience this offers will benefit club members as well as the wider Blair community.

The projects these teamed clubs undertake are often as advantageous for the general population of Blair as they are for the event's intended recipients. Through these efforts the organizations for which our clubs are fund raising get more money and publicity, and we become more culturally and politically knowledgeable as a school.

Events like the GSA/SGR AIDS convention give us exposure to issues like AIDS that influence the modern world, and because there are two different perspectives combining to put them on, they come to us in a new and different light.

Similarly, the students participating in the clubs gain new insight into their area of interest, and in doing so they access a new pocket of Blair's widespread student body by interacting with new people.

Although Blair is one of the most racially and culturally diverse schools in the state, self-segregation and elementary school tracking has made it so that many students rarely have the opportunity to venture out of their circle of similarly-minded friends.

But projects like club-doubling could change that.

In her work on the Spanish Heritage Month open mic, Spanish Honor Society member senior Kathryn Klett was reminded of the immense gap between different cultures at Blair. "It made the divide very clear between the Spanish and English speakers," she said, "and gave me a better understanding of how much we need to do to close that." If everyone could experience a similar realization of Blair's self-segregated state, we would be much closer to being able to expand our horizons to include people of different races, cultures and mindsets into our closer circles.

From a more practical perspective, the effects of club-doubling could put Blair back on the MCPS map of institutions worth a little extra hype. Schools attract publicity by being active and interesting. Every year both the National Honor Society and the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MCR) recognize student leaders and school activities that go above and beyond the expected commitment.

Despite Blair's size and multiplicity, we have never been acknowledged for either award, while two different student groups at Blake have won the MCR honor in consecutive years.

The publicity Blair would gain by winning one of these awards would increase county interest in our clubs and organizations, which in turn would increase school interest.

Club events would be better attended by students and Blair administrators could be persuaded to provide more funding for after school activities if they understood that clubs could give them better standing in MCPS.

Club-doubling is a commendable initiative by Blair organizations that helps both school and students. And within the orbit of partnered clubs, the possibilities are endless - improvisational Scrabble day by the Board Game and Comedy Sketch Clubs, a revitalization of Woodstock by the Green Club, Meditation Club and Silver Quill. Through club cooperation, each organization can play its part in making Blair a thriving, connected community.



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