School isn’t just academics — extracurricular activities also play a big role. Here are five Long Island schools offering after-school clubs that stretch beyond the norm, focusing on surfing, fishing, breaking down barriers, encouraging boys to read, and teaching middle schoolers to use documentary-making software.
School Joint club of Freeport and Syosset high schools
Purpose Courageous conversation
This club was initiated by Syosset senior Jake Gould last year, after he attended a summer camp in Maine called Seeds of Peace, which brings together American, Israeli and Palestinian teens. “I saw the power of what dialogue and conversation can do. I saw a similar need for a program like that on Long Island,” Gould says. Breaking Borders brings students from Syosset and Freeport together for “courageous conversations” about racial, ethnic and socioeconomic differences, says Syosset assistant principal and club adviser David Steinberg. Last spring, for instance, the students talked about how immigration issues affect their communities, as well as how they identify ethnically. “The students really dictate where the conversation is going to go,” says Joshua Levitt, Freeport social studies chair and club co-adviser. Other schools also have groups to increase understanding, including Oceanside Middle School, which has a No Place for Hate club.
School Ward Melville High School, East Setauket
Purpose Become competent in fishing
Club members learn about rod and reel selection, lure and bait selection, teaser and bucktail tying (lures used for saltwater fishing for fluke and striped bass) and rod building. Members discuss different species and techniques for targeting them at different times of year and locations on Long Island. The club meets Tuesdays after school, does weekend outings, and sponsors an annual Ward Melville Fishing Expo geared to young anglers (the next expo is scheduled for March 3). “We spend a lot of time on conservation and learning the environment,” says club adviser Bob Wilson, a social studies teacher at the high school. The club fishes together on party fishing boats in Port Jefferson and makes trips to Orient Point and Montauk. “It’s really great to have a group of people who can all get out and fish together,” says club vice president and high school junior Jack Bertini. “It’s something that isn’t available to a ton of kids our age.”
School East Moriches Elementary School
Purpose Encourage boys to read for pleasure
“Research shows that boys lag behind girls in fluency and comprehension. They’re not as apt to go browsing in the fiction section and pick up something to read,” says Emily Eich, assistant principal, school librarian and club adviser for Guys Read. The club, for fourth-grade boys, meets once a week outside of the school day. They read about and research places in New York City, and the club culminates with a trip there. The group reads a fiction book with a New York City setting. Last year’s book, for instance, was called “Vampire State Building” by Elizabeth Levy, and during a trip to Manhattan the boys visited the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. “I liked the book,” says Maxwell Orr, 10, who was in the club last year. “I got to do a Powerpoint on the USS Intrepid and go on a field trip, and I also liked how I got to hang out with everybody.”
School Long Beach High School
Purpose Learning about surfing
“We have a big beach population here. We try to connect the kids with their environment,” says Neal Campbell, a special-education teacher at the high school and co-adviser for the Surf Club. The club meets twice a month after school, and kids learn, among other things, about surf conditions and weather conditions. The club also participates in community beach cleanups and helps out at surfing events such as Surfers Healing, an event that introduces surfing to kids with special needs. The club also has a competitive surfing team that competes annually in New Jersey. “It’s fun to surf with a bunch of people and all my friends,” says three-year club member Summer Ejnes, 16.
Music Technology Club
School Roosevelt Middle School
Purpose Expose students to professional technology at an early age
The club, which started last year, meets two days a week after school. Club members get in-depth instruction on how to professionally use equipment and software such as Garage Band and iMovie at an early age, says club adviser Alexander Verstraete, who teaches music theory and technology. Students use Garage Band to record and electronically enhance their own music. Using iMovie, “they can actually take pictures and make their own documentary like you see on television. They can narrate it and put music to it,” Verstraete says. “The point of the Music Technology Club is teaching them how to do it correctly, professionally, and give them guidance.” Says club member Julissa Guillen, 13: “It showed me more advanced stuff. I learned how to fade in and out of music in Garage Band.”