This semester, Dalton Junior High School premiered over 20 new clubs designed to engage students and provide homes for their hobbies.
In their inaugural year, Dalton Junior High made it their mission to prioritize inclusivity and bring student engagement to an all-time high.
Principal Missie McKinney said student participation is vital to academic success and personal wellbeing.
“We are continuing to look for other opportunities to get students involved because it is our belief that participation in extracurriculars improves academic performance, improves mental health, helps develop passions/interests, develops collaboration/teamwork and looks great on a college application,” McKinney said. “Getting kids involved is also part of the district's strategic plan.”
The push for a larger variety of clubs began in December when students and staff were surveyed about the possibility of introducing new clubs.
According to McKinney, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and the search for club sponsors began soon after.
Teacher and club sponsor Catelynn Schroeder believes it is important for students to have these creative outlets because it allows them to express themselves in a way they may not always have in a traditional classroom.
“These clubs also allow students to explore different things they may not generally have the chance to experience, such as different cultures, or different skills such as wood working or sewing,” Schroeder said. “Clubs also allow students to interact with people who have the same interest as them, allowing for new friendships to be created, which after the last few years, has become hard for some students. I also think it is good for teachers to be allowed to share something they are passionate about with the students in a more relaxed setting. It is a good outlet for all involved.”
Schroeder is one of over 30 educators who have stepped up to create environments for students to explore their interests and grow in their skills.
Action Council Sponsor Tom Lee said anytime we can help foster a student's natural interest, we have an obligation to do so.
“The clubs at DJHS were created through student voice,” Lee said. “The action council had a strong start this year. As a matter of fact, students were at the school before teachers even arrived for pre-planning.”
Looking forward to the next school year, Lee believes students will return with the valuable experiences of the year prior while also welcoming the fresh perspectives of incoming students.
“I’m excited to see our leadership teams on the Council continue to grow,” Lee said. “Year two of the Council will see several students who participated this year return. That experience will be valuable. At the same time, we will have new eighth graders coming to us from Hammond Creek that will bring a fresh perspective. I look forward to seeing Action Council members find new ways to serve the student body.”
McKinney said these clubs have ignited relationships across the building, and next year, the school will continue providing these opportunities.
“We want to wrap all students in as much support as possible, connecting them in some way with peers and adults in order to help them navigate some of their hardest years,” McKinney said. “Dalton Junior High houses students that are in one of the most difficult ages they will navigate. Providing a climate where all students feel safe and loved will help them be more ready to learn.”