Alternative club ideas for your offbeat high schooler

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Ohh, what about a cosplay gathering? Photo by Sklathill, used under Creative Commons license.

It’s September, which means a lot of y’all have kids that are going back to school or in school already — and some of you probably have kids of the high school variety. I began my high school career as a new kid — I was transplanted from a small town with a class of around 100 to a gigantic school that had a class of 800. Talk about feeling lost!

I was pretty shy throughout my high school years, but something that really opened me up was joining the Newspaper Staff Club my sophomore year. And by “opened up,” I should say that I went from being the girl who didn’t speak to anyone to being the girl who made her teacher’s desktop background Sid Vicious’s death certificate (why? I STILL DON’T KNOW) and wore glitter all over my face. So, you know. Newspaper Staff brought something out of me.

I recently asked those of you who follow us on Facebook what kind of clubs you participated in high school — Newspaper is a pretty standard offering at a lot of schools, like Science Olympiad or something athletic (I was also a member of the Astronomy Club, but like 97% of the other members, I joined to get the t-shirt that had “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” on the back of it. JIMI!). I was looking for the good stuff, the crazy shit that you guys made up as clubs when you were teens that you actually loved participating in. Our Facebook folks did NOT disappoint, and now I’ve compiled an awesome list of club ideas for you to suggest to your bored-with-high-school teen.

Disco Preservation Society

After school we would learn the dances, speak the lingo and pretend we were living it up the 70’s. Groovy times! — Katrina Rivers Bean

You guys, I can’t even describe to you the magic that happened in my head when I read Katrina’s comment. I think Ariel and I were in the middle of discussing something important, and all of the sudden I’m all HOLY SHIT, ARIEL. DISCO PRESERVATION SOCIETY COMMENT. Can you imagine how awesome this club would be? You could have dress-up days without telling anyone, so all of the sudden twenty or so 11th graders would be sauntering down the hallways decked out in their finest 70s duds. If everyone learned The Hustle you could have a flash mob in the middle of lunch. The best thing about this idea is that it’s not limited to the 70s at all — kids can GO CRAZY with it.

Teen Court

We had Teen Court. Teens who got minor tickets (speeding, loud music, fighting) could opt to have their case to go to Teen Court to avoid costly regular court. We acted as the jury and lawyers. The final say was ultimately up to the judge, but we still threw some pretty legit arguments out there. You could also choose to be an aide of some sort as a class. You could be an office aide, teacher’s aide, counsler’s aide or library aide. Of course, I chose to spend my time in the library. — Sarah Harman

Um, hello BRILLIANCE. This could easily be some kind of detention alternative, and really brings reality to the idea of a “jury of your peers.” I’m all about empowering teens to make their own decisions and own up the consequences, and I think something like Teen Court would be both less intimidating than a “real” court and also teach them a thing or two. Who knows how many future lawyers were born after an after-school activity like this?

Lumberjack Club

I was in Anime club and the lumberjack club. I went to a weird high school. — Jack McKee

I’ll be honest: I threw this one up here just so I could make sure everyone saw it. LUMBERJACK CLUB. And also so I could link to this.

There are a ton of other ideas that were mentioned that are awesome — knitting club, anime club, and LARPing club. (Ok, no one mentioned that last one but I keep bringing it up whenever I talk about this post… perhaps I have a LARPer in me who’s dying to get out?) What kinds of alternative clubs did you guys participate in? What are your teens talking about doing?

Comments on Alternative club ideas for your offbeat high schooler

  1. Our school had a Ben Club, made up entirely of people named Ben.

    I was in one called JAWS – Jaded Adolescents Watching Shows. We’d snag a classroom TV once a month and watch a movie.

  2. I was in DECA club which is we ran the school store, the candy store out of the vocation school and made our own orders…I have been to 3 different hs that was the only one that offered it. And of the Harry Potter club 😉

  3. I was in Horticulture club for awhile. We’d hang out in the greenhouse after school and during lunch we sat around it or watered the plants. It was like our own hang out, and eventually all of our friends ate lunch around it. Now imagine it: greenhouse circled by punks, goths, hipsters, and plant geeks. Also had the Gay Straight Alliance, but it often met same day as Horticulture.

    I didn’t go to any other clubs but we also had Pirate club, Young Democrats, Young Republicans, clubs for every ethnic group which would put on a big multicultural party every year in which our Chilean friend danced in the Asian Student Club performance.

  4. I did theatre theatre theatre. Everyday after high school for almost all four years. It was the best. I wasn’t an actor either! I was a techie! We would frequently wear all black (which went well with my hot pink hair) as part our necessary backstage ninja actions! I built and designed sets, painted them, and built props. Other people acted, directed plays and did costumes and make-up. It was so offbeat yet so safe and fun!

    In 10th grade geometry I asked my teacher what I would use these equations for later in life and he shot me a look of death! But that same week we used the equation to find/make an oval to build a platform for a set! It was magical.

    • I had to respond to this one, because I was also a techie who spent every possible second in the theater. Bless theater folk! My step daughter is now ONE OF US, and is looking for a good college to continue her desire to make magic back stage.

      • if she is seriously looking into technical theater have her look at Carnegie Mellon University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music or North Carolina School of the Arts. they are routinely noted as the top three schools in the industry. I was in the Thespian Society at my high school and took that “techie” thing all the way through college and into the professional world! I wear a lot less black now a days but will always hold it close to my heart.

  5. Some iof the clubs I was in:
    HOPE club (Highland Organized for Planet Earth) where we did environmental projects in our community
    Artifex which was basically an Art club
    Trout Fishing in America Terrorists which had a large body of participators but not much in the way of meetings
    and one that wasn’t a club but really helped me in the way yours seemed to, I was on the Literary Magazine staff. We felt so “outside the norm” with some of our poems and stories that had (gasp!) swearing and disturbing themes. I loved helping with the selection and had some entries myself.

  6. I was in the Teen AIDS Task Force in high school. We did AIDS walks, raised money in various ways for AIDS research and even walked in a little town parade with a big AIDS awareness banner.

  7. One of the high schools I went to had a cereal club and a neo-pagan alliance that tended to meet at the same time because most people were members of both clubs. The goal of cereal club was to get sugary cereals in the dining halls. (It was a boarding school.)

    I belonged to Choir, Drama Club, Model United Nations, Literary Magazine, and Debate Team at various points throughout high school. I was also on the swim team, but that conflicted with some clubs so I dropped it.

  8. I was co-president and co-founder of our school’s Badminton Club. Our meetings were conducted under the auspices of a stuffed badger, and we had a secret phrase, “Shuttlecock”, that we yelled at each other when we passed each other in the halls. We were also pretty fierce badminton players.

  9. In h.s. my partner did an after-school philosophy circle, the jazz band and indoor drum line, stage crew, and debate. I did drama, the newspaper and the literary magazine, plus a brief (and disastrous) stint in majorettes. I also DJ’d my own radio show my first semester in college (age 15). We didn’t have a gay-straight alliance; quite the opposite in fact. I wish we had.

  10. My school had only the typical clubs when I was in school. Now as a teacher I just started up a Snowboard Club… we are mountain biking up to snow season and then will be riding once a week. The kids and I are pumped!

  11. My high school had a boffing club, where we made our own weapons and fought out in the middle of the football field. I was the only girl in it and it did result in a nice concussion for me and plenty of other injuries for everyone else. I actually really wonder why they allowed it after the ambulance ordeal. Quite a bit of fun and well worth the social abuse we had to deal with as a result.

  12. I was such a huge band geek in high school. During the fall we had Marching Band, since I was in drumline we had our own awesomeness of 25 kids that hung out constantly. Did sleepovers, had dinners together before rehearsals. Then I joined Harmonics (our Show Choir’s name) as a ‘techie’ meaning I helped out behind the scenes.
    High school was amazing. I think it helped that I found a group I really connected with. Just so happened this music group was 400 strong in the school.
    During the winter I was involved in Winterguard. Its like the colorguard that is with the marching band in the fall, but does their own thing without the band.
    I wish my school offered more clubs even though I may not have had the time to join them, or that I went on found the ‘clubs’ that weren’t recognized by the school. However, I did join the ‘Dodgeball’ club and even though the school didn’t recognize it outright, they did let us use one of the gyms after school.

  13. When I was in highschool, my friends and I started Peace club, which enjoyed 15 minutes of fame when we were featured in a Rocky Mountain News article for our involvement in the MLK Jr festival one year. It was basically an anti war club.
    I also was involved in SOUL club, which stood for Students Of United Liberty. It was a politics discussion club. Neither club lasted beyond our graduations, unfortunately.

  14. I re-started the “Earth Club” at my high school. The meetings basically consisted of me suggesting ways of initiating a recycling campaign and a group of “Anarchist” boys shooting me down because posting signs would be “distributing propaganda.” Awww, the politics of high school.

  15. I participated in and eventually led a club called “Pagan Tearoom.” Basically a religion (mostly pagan)/philosophy discussion group. I went to a pretty liberal highschool.

  16. I was a total music geek (the fact that my dad was the band director at my school probably had something to do with that). Of course going to a small school that had limited funding meant that marching band and jazz band were extra-curricular, so they were like being in a club because those in it weren’t doing it for school credit. Also, we had a pipe and drum band so I played bagpipes as well. My senior year a bunch of my friends and I started an acapella group and we would do a crazy variety of stuff, from Billy Joel to The White Stripes to Nirvana. It was fun coming up with all vocal parts.

  17. I was part of an Art Club back in high school. Mostly it was just the creative geeks getting together, along with our nerdy art teacher, to make shirts, watch funny videos, and goof off. We did productive things too, though; the art room walls got painted, we organized museum trips and exhibitions, and we started a tradition of painting a mural representing the graduating class every year.

  18. AHEM. Dance Dance Revolution Club. Our shirts said “A revolution without dancing is no revolution at all”. We eventually branched out to other kinds of dancing as well.

    Renegade Civic Duty, where we would do dawn clean-ups of local parks, etc., without anybody seeing us. We would dress as ninjas or in camo.

    The Flower Patrol, where we would pick random days and bring in baskets of flowers to just hand out single ones to students. This eventually morphed into the Random Acts of Kindness Club (self-explanatory?)

    I also did theatre, choir, young philosopher’s club, horticulture, debate team and FFA. These were not ALL at the same time, but looking back I have no idea how I did all that. I miss having so much ENERGY.

    • I know the feeling. I was in Knowledge Master, Drama Club, Art Club, Student Council, etc. I remember getting to school when it was dark out and not leaving until it was dark again….

    • Um, may I just say that I LOVE your Renegade Civic Duty club idea! I wonder what my mid-western, deeply-suburban neighbors will think when they see their new young neighbor trying to army-crawl away from a park in camo….

  19. I don’t know if it’s as popular in the US, but I’ve heard of schools here in the UK having anime drawing clubs, which can be very popular and have been found to be good for including kids with autistic spectrum disorders along with their other classmates in a social setting.

  20. I created a charter for a new club at my school called “The Young Masters of Arthurian Legend Organization” or YMALO. It started with some class discussion after reading “The Once and Future King”. We were comparing all the different versions of the King Arthur legend in literature, and evidently taking up valuable class-time. So we started the club and spent our meetings watching “The Sword in the Stone” and discussing whose fault it all really was- Lancelot? Guinivere? Arthur?

  21. Some of my cooler clubs in high school were AIDS Awareness Club, Songwriters Club, Chamber Orchestra, and Cultural Diversity Coalition. My work for the latter led to my being appointed to the mayor’s Youth Commission, and then also the 10th Congressional District Youth Congress my senior year. We met at Dennis Kucinich’s office every other Saturday and he taught us skills we didn’t learn in school, like how to hold a press conference. It was pretty rad.

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