Experts say pupils involved in school-sanctioned clubs perform better academically than their classmates.
That could explain the growing list of clubs at schools in Richmond and Columbia counties.
At Lakeside High School, students can join the Country Music Appreciation Club or the Card Players Association. They have a Car Club, a Motorcycle Club, the Rugged Outdoors Club and a club for every political party.
At A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School, there is the Stock Market Club, the 21st Century Club and the Sign Language Club. Students also can learn French, Latin or Spanish while involved in clubs.
Students at Westside High School just started an after-school Guitar Club this semester. Senior Mitchell Copeland frequently jams with teacher Ray Bradford on Nirvana and Metallica tunes.
"It's one of the only clubs that I can really relate to," Mitchell said. "I come in here to learn different kinds of music. I came to learn different styles."If it's a safe and worthwhile activity and a sponsor can be found, Lakeside Principal Jeff Carney said he's willing to sanction it.
"I know for a fact kids do better in school when they are involved with that school," Mr. Carney said. "Not everybody is into athletics or band - two of your larger organizations. The more involved they are, the better they will do, the more they will like school."
Among its club offerings, Greenbrier High School has a Buddy Club, which provides opportunities for special-education students to socialize with other students. The school also has a volleyball club, a ping-pong club and the Golden Wolves Mentoring Club, which provides encouragement and positive role models for members.
"The purpose of the organization is to help develop leadership skills, academic skills, social skills, community awareness, goal-setting, self-discipline and self-respect," said Greenbrier Assistant Principal Michael Johnson, the Golden Wolves club's founder. "They are exposed to enough negative things in the media. I want them to be exposed to the positive things and talk to some of the leaders in the community because they have things to share with them."
The 50-member club meets once a month to discuss goals. Augusta State University psychology professor Ralph Watkins has been a guest speaker, and some members have gone to Greenbrier Elementary to read to pupils.
Evans High School has the Culture Connection, whose membership includes students from many ethnic backgrounds interested in other cultures. The school also has a Black History Club and an Earth Club.Harlem High School's Drama Club has put the school on the map. Currently, it's trying to earn $120,000 to send a 22-member troupe to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August.
Students at the Academy of Richmond County can pick from 34 clubs, including Future Nurses and Richmond Illustrators, whose members can work on murals and other art projects. The clubs meet during school twice a month.
Studies show that students who participate in clubs and extracurricular activities do better academically, according to ARC psychology teacher Thomas Gamblin, who studied the issue as part of his master's thesis.He said studies indicate that students who are not engaged in such activities have an average grade point average of 2.0. Those who participate in clubs or athletics score an average of 2.8.
Students who get involved take more pride in their school, have less time to get into trouble and have more adult influences in their lives, Mr. Gamblin said.
"The more they get involved with the school, the more they see the school as their own," he said.
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