Improving and Impacting the World Through Clubs


Francis Lewis faculty training during a Restorative Circle session.

You are sitting in a classroom with your other club members wondering if your pen pal received your letter. Then, you see your club president with a stack of letters in her hand. She gives them out one by one and you finally get the one addressed to you. Inside, is a thank you note where a little girl is describing her appreciation for you. You feel fulfilled for making someone feel cared for and loved.

This is one of the many activities that a club at Francis Lewis High School has done to create change in our community. Many other clubs and programs are present in the school that work to achieve the same goal of creating a positive impact.

“The goal of U-Rounded is to help students from all different backgrounds,” said Johnny Jiang, co-founder of U-Rounded  and previous president of the club. “Our goal basically is to help youths with their learning process. We believe that all youths basically have potential and that they have talent in what they are interested in. Therefore, we want to help them and build their skills in whatever they’re passionate about so that they can further contribute to our society as a whole.”

According to URounded, the organization consists of high school students from various different schools. They work to provide education to children in grades K-11 who don’t have the resources to learn.

“We have also provided a lot of youths, from freshmen to juniors, in standardized testing preparations,” Jiang said. “Also, for their future,[we have] tutoring or either workshop planning for them.”

Another club in the school, Foundation of Peace, works to help people in need and fight back against world issues such as poverty and climate change.

“The goal of Foundation of Peace is to promote different events that are happening around the world that aren’t brought much attention to,” the President of the Foundation of Peace Club, Aamina Baig, said.“Not only just promote them, but  figure out ways in which we as students could contribute to them.”

Baig created the club this year due to the fact that many world issues were going on. The club works with different charities each month to provide support and spread awareness.

“So during that time, there was the Pakistan flood that was going on, that basically destroyed  3/4ths of our country,” Baig said.

“I don’t think that there’s much attention being drawn to situations like that, especially in third-world countries. I wanted a way for students in our school to be educated on it.”

According to Baig, many people are inspired to take action, and “there are a lot more people that are willing to talk about situations like these now.”

“I think that we have brought it to the school’s attention a little bit,” Baig added. “People are more willing to go and spread information and research, which is a big thing because some people just like speaking about it [the issue] but they don’t really know much about the topic.”

Another club at Francis Lewis, Amnesty International, works to fight for human rights and against injustice. They have worked to change cruel laws and free people from jail.

“They really focused on a lot of different issues,” previous advisor of Amnesty International Dr. Cohen said. “They focused on gender rights, they helped inform people about what basic human rights are, they did letter writing, campaigns for different politicians in states where they felt people’s rights were being infringed upon. They looked at how people with different socioeconomic statuses don’t necessarily have the same rights in America and tried to brainstorm ways to fix that.”

Dr. Cohen also discussed how students became more active because of the club.

“There were students who did volunteer opportunities even during COVID, which involved phone banking and letter writing campaigns,” Dr. Cohen said. “Showing that even if you’re too young to be the one to vote, you still have rights and you still have power, even if it’s just signing a petition.  I saw people become empowered and feel more ownership over their future.”

Clubs aren’t the only way that change can occur at Francis Lewis.  A program called Restorative Circles, established in January of 2022, works to curbs conflict and teaches students to be responsible as they reflect on their actions.

“Because of the pandemic, there were a lot of students who either had suffered from learning loss or have issues with mental health, or just needed to create connections because they spent so much time at home,” English AP and one of the Coordinators of Restorative Circles, Ms. Huggins, said. “It was the perfect opportunity to implement this program this year [2022].”

“It helps students learn to look conflict in the face and resolve the conflict without using their fists,” Ms. Huggins said. “It teaches kids how to advocate for themselves without yelling, without getting angry. It’s teaching kids how important school is in connection with adults.”

With the help of the program, many students are now changing their actions.

“A lot of student attendance has increased,” English and Restorative Circles teacher Mr. Felder said. “Students are going to class, some of the students do feel like they have a sense of community. I’ve noticed in my specific circle that there are some kids who at the beginning of the year, every time we would go around the circle, they would just say ‘pass.’ They just didn’t want to talk, but now pretty much all of them share something because they do feel comfortable enough at this point to say things.”

Dr. Cohen recognizes the importance of creating change in our community as well as our world.

“It makes you realize how much power individuals have,” Dr. Cohen added. “I thought it was very important, as a teacher whose bringing up the next generation of voters, to understand the power they have and how it is going to affect all of our lives.”