Moving forward: McNick traditions, extracurriculars need revived

Throughout its history, McNicholas High School has had several extracurriculars and traditions that, while they were once very popular, have gradually lost interest with the student body. They then either fade into being unknown, or worse, are cancelled altogether due to lack of interest and participation.  Several clubs no longer exist, some activities, like the community garden, begin to become difficult to maintain once more enthusiastic students start to graduate, and others, like the tradition of the Sadie Hawkins Dance, are simply left behind entirely.

All of these have something in common: They are student driven.  In order for a club to survive, it needs members.  In order for a dance to be successful, it needs participants.  And in order for the garden to be maintained, it needs students who care and are willing to put forth the effort required to keep it running.  Others cannot be relied on to maintain these clubs and traditions; the students must step up and be responsible, or else face the possibility of losing what other students have worked hard to initiate.

For example, in the beginning the McNick community garden was very student driven.

“Those kids were really enthusiastic about working in it and getting it going…and then when those kids graduated we didn’t really have any kids who came along to carry on the enthusiasm,” said Science Department Chair Regina Goines.  Due to the lack of students involved, it became more difficult to maintain the garden.

“I’d like to have more student involvement, but right now it’s primarily adults that grow stuff in there,” said Ecology Club moderator and science teacher Mary Dennemann.

However, the garden is lucky.  It is still growing, and there are adults involved who would be more than happy to have students get involved.  Those who are interested in helping continuously could join the Ecology Club and should contact Dennemann. There is also an option for those who want to help but can’t necessarily dedicate time consistently.

“We just kinda keep a running list, in hoping that if somebody needs a service project or wants to help that we can say here’s the list, kinda pick from it,” SAIL teacher and garden volunteer Jeanne Daly said.

Some school events have not been so lucky.  The Sadie Hawkins Dance, a McNick tradition started by the Class of 1961, was eventually cancelled due mostly to lack of attendance.  It was a student-run dance, and it was casual, often incorporating themes such as neon or Disney.  However, the lack of student interest made it difficult, and arguably pointless to continue the tradition.

“Lack of attendance I guess would be the best way to say what happened,” said math teacher and former sophomore class moderator Bill Losekamp.

Many could argue that traditions like the Sadie Hawkins Dance are better left in the past.  If students don’t want to continue a club or dance, why should they?  However, it seems to be a repeated pattern that there are many student-driven activities that are started, and then left behind, and those who may want to participate may never get the chance.

The solution to this, for those who are involved, is to participate.  Tell other people about whatever you’re involved in, invite them to an event, or even ask them to join.  More importantly, invite underclassmen, because the club will be in their hands once the grades above them graduate.  It is absolutely imperative that the student body encourage each other to get involved in something, to have a goal, to make connections, and more importantly, to make memories.

“We have to keep feeding the compost pile…we’re trying to find a way to incorporate those recyclable cartons this year into the compost somehow,” Daly said.

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