Campus Clubs Adapt to Quarantine with Online Platforms

As Andover has moved to a remote spring term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, student clubs have been affected by a lack of in-person connection. For some, previously planned events activities have been cancelled, while others have developed alternative solutions to cope with the difficult situation.

The Criminal Investigation Club is a club where students learn about the criminal justice system and investigate crime cases through discussions, presentations, and activities. President Katie Wimmer ‘21, was disappointed to not be able to interact with members of her club in person.

“I was sad because a big part of our club is being able to be together and engage in really interesting discussions with one another, and that is definitely difficult to do virtually when you can’t see each other and you can’t interact as easily,” said Wimmer.

Nevertheless, club meetings stay unaffected as weekly online lectures and presentations continue, allowing members to stay active and learn new things throughout the pandemic. However, a previous activity where members interact with each other in person to solve a crime has been cancelled, according to Wimmer.

“There was one of them that is less lecture based and an interactive one where we will work together and solve a crime that will be made up by the board in real life. I wished we had done that earlier because now we can’t do it in the spring,” Wimmer said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed or cancelled many club activities, Potpourri, the yearbook club, was able to submit the main book prior to Spring Break. According to former Editor in Chief Claire Davis ’20, this was a relief in terms of production, as the club followed a strict deadline. However, the distribution and sales of the book remains a challenge.

“The main book actually gets submitted before Spring Break, so it didn’t affect any of the actual content that went into the yearbook, so luckily we didn’t have to worry about having to deal with organizing last minute things on campus. When I initially thought about it, I was worried about it and what we were going to do regarding passing out the yearbook; we usually do the majority of our sales of the yearbook in the spring by setting up a table in [Paresky Commons], so we had to adjust to make that digital, which has been a little bit difficult…I don’t think that I would want to have done anything differently,” Davis said in the interview.

Current Potpourri Editor in Chief Ari Phillips ’21, said the club has been productive regardless of the school being virtual, as printing plants have stayed active. Furthermore, club members have been reaching out to the Andover community for photos documenting student life during quarantine for additional content.

“The club has been fine, but it’s a little bit difficult because the yearbook is a hands-on thing and usually the photographers would be busy getting pictures and quotes from people in person and [not] being at school makes it hard to do that. Now we email people and some people ask their friends for quotes; it’s not too different but it’s different enough…One of the main things that was challenging was finding ways of how to keep track of things that are going on with everyone in the club. I have to reach out a lot because, since we’re out of school, I don’t see anyone and that is very annoying sometimes…they have no motivation to do so and it can be a little difficult to respond, ” Phillips said.

Other clubs have also found flexibility during this time. VEX Robotics is Andover’s competitive robotics team, where students build and program robots to accomplish various missions. This year, the team competed in several regional qualifiers and qualified for the Southern New England Regional Championships, according to Anthony Kim ’21, Co-Head of VEX Robotics.

The pandemic halted the regional championships, but did not affect the season entirely, as the team had yet to qualify for Worlds, Kim stated.

“The news that school would be closed for spring term was actually not too devastating. Our season would have only continued if we had qualified for Worlds, but we hadn’t yet done so. So Spring Term is really flexible for us, and that made the whole deal a bit easier on us. However, the VEX competition season was cut short due to safety concerns, and we weren’t able to compete at the Regional Championships; and this was pretty devastating. A lot of us were looking forward to this competition, which would have been in the middle of Spring Break, so it was quite sad that our robot wouldn’t be competing,” explained Kim.

In response to the pandemic, however, VEX Robotics kept themselves busy by preparing for next year’s competition and reviewing applications for new board members.

“We finished accepting applications for next year’s board and will be announcing our decisions soon. In addition, the new competition for the 2020-2021 season was revealed last weekend, so we began brainstorming designs for next year…If I saw any of this coming, then I think we would have taken apart and organized our robots and parts in our robotics room. This would have been really helpful for us to get started quickly next year,” Kim said in the interview.

When asked about what advice one would give themself as a leader of an Andover club, all the board members of their respective clubs said that being organized and planning ahead of time are crucial regarding the running of a club, especially in unpredictable times and unfavorable situations.

Editor’s Note: Anthony Kim is a Digital Editor for The Phillipian. Ariana Phillips is a Layout Editor for The Phillipian.