Francis Lewis Clubs Adapting to a Virtual World

The sound of typing as students enter a Zoom code for a club meeting. The view of a black screen, waiting for the host to bring members into the meeting.  As members enter the meeting, the view of muted microphones and cameras off is seen. Watching the board members as they explain the activity for the day, the feeling of isolation takes over as there is a lack of interaction with each other. 

Francis Lewis is running all clubs virtually due to the global pandemic. Although some clubs, such as the Cooking Club, have been thriving via Zoom, others are facing a challenge to keep their members engaged and excited. 

“Key Club during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven itself to be quite different when compared to how it was in-person,” Key Club President Katelyn Chen said. “Although the mission statement of Key Club (‘Caring— Our Way of Life’) remains the same, the remote aspect of Key Club has limited members to participate in volunteer activities through virtual events, instead of in-person events.” 

One way Key Club keeps members engaged and continues to help the community is through virtual community service, such as one event called Free Rice! Members can answer multiple-choice questions, and for every correct answer a grain of rice donated. This allows members to stay safe while helping others in need. 

When it comes to running a club virtually, some students find it challenging to grab the attention of members in a Zoom meeting, making it more difficult to see who is actually engaged. 

“In-person, it is much easier to captivate our members’ attention,” American Red Cross Club President Angelina Ge said. “When running the club remotely, most of our members turn their cameras off, so it is hard to see if they enjoy what we present and actually learn about what the American Red Cross does. Therefore, it is hard for the board, and I do know when to ‘spice’ things up.”

The Red Cross provides critical services to people who don’t know where to turn after a disaster, who require lifesaving blood, or who need help from our nation after sacrificing so much on our behalf. 

“It is important for us to raise money for them in order to provide for people in need,” Ge said. 

Some find a lack of connection between board members and keeping the club in order. 

“There have been bumps and hurdles when it comes to communication about the roles and titles of the board members but it’s mostly due to being disorganized,” Environmental Club Treasurer Emily Peng said.  

Teamwork is very important when running a club, especially when adapting to a virtual world.  Board members are trying to work together to make the club interactive and productive. 

“The board and I do extensive research online and look for opportunities that give back to the community,” Ge said. “For illustration, we researched how to give back to the community during the holiday season and got an opportunity to write letters to disabled adults and seniors.”

For some members, running a club remotely cannot compare to being in-person. There are many experiences that will be missed without being together. 

“Although running the club in person requires more leadership regarding the in-person events, the exhilaration I receive from volunteering around the city is unmatched,” Katelyn Chen said.  “I love seeing this club physically make a difference in the community.”