Many students have to work hard to get the grades they need in school. This can add a lot of pressure and stress to their lives if they let their academics become their only area of focus. At Princeton High School (PHS), there are lots of clubs and teams that make it easy for students to get involved.
The International Thespian Society is an organization for theater students in middle and high school. Any student can get involved with theater at PHS. The only requirement is that they attend Thespian Troupe meetings.
Grace Weir and Aziza Genglik, seniors, have been involved in the Thespian Troupe since their freshman year. Weir is the president and her duties include planning and organizing productions and activities. Genglik is the student director of Twelfth Night, the Thespian Troupe’s next play. Her responsibilities include directing a scene and helping Michael Fielder, PHS English teacher and Thespian Troupe advisor, direct Twelfth Night.
It’s important for members of the Thespian Troupe, along with members of any school group, to not limit themselves.
“Never exclude anything,” said Genglik. “A lot of people just want to be on stage acting, but I think the backstage work is just as much fun. Just try new things.”
Taking part in extracurricular activities can help students to make friends and improve as people.
“I’ve become a more positive person and a more open person because of the Thespian Troupe,” said Weir. “I’ve also become a super fast worker.”
Some of the clubs at PHS are service-based. H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Planet Earth) Club’s goal is to help the environment by recycling and raising awareness.
Tayler Hammons, senior, has been a member of H.O.P.E. Club since her junior year and is now the president. She manages the club by communicating with members, enforcing rules, and coming up with ways to make the club better.
“Even on the weekends, I always think about how I can make it better because you can’t only think about yourself,” said Hammons. “You have to think about the fact that now there are other people involved.”
Another student-led organization at PHS is Key Club. Its goal is to get as many students as possible to provide volunteer services for the community. Dana Zinnecker, PHS paraprofessional, has been the Key Club advisor for four years.
“It addresses needs,” said Zinnecker. “Kids need involvement. It’s been proven that students who participate in extracurricular activities in the school setting are more likely to be successful and stay out of trouble.”
Any student can get involved with Key Club. There are no academic requirements, but members must have a willingness to serve their community both in and out of school. The group meets every Tuesday after school.
While many of the teams at PHS are athletic, there are also teams for those who prefer to compete on an intellectual level.
Academic Quiz is a winter sport. Being a part of the Academic Quiz Team (AQT) is beneficial for students because it allows them to meet people with similar interests. Michael Mendoza, sophomore, has been a member of AQT since his freshman year. He says that being on the team has let him become better friends with his teammates.
“It attracts a certain type of people,” said Mendoza. “Basically, the kind of people who would want to do trivia for a sport.”
The Speech and Debate team competes against schools all over Ohio.
The Speech and Debate team is always accepting new members and there are no requirements. However, it is best that members join in the beginning of the year so they can improve as the season goes on, according to PHS Debate team coach and English teacher, Alan Bates.
“It’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Bates.
Alena George, senior, is captain of the Speech team. She joined the Debate team her freshman year and switched to the Speech team her sophomore year.
“It’s fun,” said George. “It’s just a really great opportunity for people who want to work on speaking or just love to talk. Speech is just great for everybody.”
Bates and George both believe being a member of the Speech and Debate team can positively impact a student academically. Bates says that it teaches students to be more effective communicators and presenters. George says that it helps not only with speaking but also with research skills.
Another academic team at PHS is the Chess Team. Michael Kampel, PHS math teacher and Chess Team coach, has been playing chess for over 40 years. The team has matches against other GMC schools and at the end of the season there is a tournament at Sycamore High School. The only requirement is that members show up to practice and play matches.
The Chess Team may be small, but they’re strong.
“We want to win the league,” said Kampel.
“[Chess Team] helps the kids concentrate more,” said Kampel. “It gives them the power of concentration that they may not have known before.”
“It’s actually a fun sport once you learn how to play,” said Kampel. “It’s very competitive.”
For students who are looking for a physical but non-competitive sport, Rock Climbing Club is available at PHS. They meet once a month at school and once a month at RockQuest, a climbing center located in Sharonville. The only requirement to join is that members turn in their forms and waivers. Rock Climbing Club is always accepting new members.
Kevin Tucker, club advisor and PHS math teacher, is a member of RockQuest. One of his former students works at RockQuest and introduced him to rock climbing four years ago. Three years ago, he decided to start the Rock Climbing Club at PHS.
“It’s physical and mental at the same time,” said Tucker. “When we go rock climbing, you’ll notice just changing your body position makes the next hold that much easier to get. It’s confidence-building because you’re always afraid you’re going to fall, so it’s overcoming that fear of falling.”
It’s important to be involved in school. Joining any of these groups is a good way for students to think of school in a more positive way. However, the most crucial part of high school is getting and maintaining good grades. As president of H.O.P.E. Club, Hammons has learned how to balance extracurriculars with academics.
“After I do my homework, I always try to see what I can do for the club,” said Hammons. “But education and school always come first. They’re priority number one. Because at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to get me where I want to be.”