Prom. Homecoming week. Pep band. All these activities are just the beginning of the list of events cancelled thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Providence Academy wouldn’t let all fun events get stripped from the calendar. The school allowed all student-led clubs which feature anything from reading books to flying planes to go on as they would in a normal year.  And so, this past Wednesday, November 11, students grouped in the Great Room to continue a long-standing PA tradition: the Club Fair.

Ninth-graders and new PA students gathered in the Great Room on November 11, 2020, learning about the twenty-two student-led clubs available to them.  (Photo courtesy of Gretta Martin)

The Club Fair has traditionally been an event where upper schoolers weave through the Atrium, admiring club leaders’ booths and debating with friends over which activities to join.  This year, the fair didn’t only take place, it took place in a similar fashion as last year; ninth-graders and new students experienced a standard club fair, complete with colorful posters and enthusiastic club leaders urging passing people to join their groups.

Sandra Alb, a freshman who experienced the fair for the first time, was pleased with the atmosphere.  She remarked, “There’s something to seeing someone face-to-face.  And talking to the club leaders made everyone a lot more interested in joining clubs.”

Though the fair was able to happen, it, like many things, had to make small modifications keeping COVID in mind.  Firstly, the students ventured to the Great Room to view the booths instead of the usual Atrium; the Great Room’s extra space allowed them to explore the exhibits while social distancing. And secondly, to help keep the crowd to a minimum, returning upper schoolers viewed the fair virtually from their House period classrooms.  In order to present their activities online, club leaders made informative presentations about their groups ahead of time to present to the returning students.

Club leaders Mary Rillens Lee ’22 and Olivia Eck ’22 show off their ping pong skills to attract students to their new ping pong club.  (Photo courtesy of Gretta Martin)

Sidney Borland ‘22, one of the leaders of the female singing group Bella Canta, explained the work she did to prepare for the fair.  She stated, “This year I had to put together a sideshow for the virtual aspect and a poster for the in-person aspect of the fair.”

But the Club Fair wasn’t the only thing that had to be tweaked in order to meet COVID protocols. The clubs themselves have all found ways to adapt to the new rules, whether that means finding new times to meet, orchestrating new rooms to gather in, or modifying certain events.

Upper and Middle School Religion Teacher Mrs. Jendro, the teacher mentor for the Lions for Life club, asserted, “We’re looking at past events to see how we can do them differently.  For example, for our 9/11 memorial, Grace Wickenheiser [’22, the student president of of Lions for Life,] met with Mrs. Harrington to make sure we were following protocols.”

And so, though the pandemic may have cancelled many things in the 2020-2021 school year, club leaders and teacher mentors put in the extra time and effort to make sure PA upper-schoolers can still enjoy the wonderful student-led clubs.