Secret clubs of West


Madison Barton

Medieval Club is not just an extracurricular, it is also a family, says adviser and talented and gifted teacher Jay Swords.

Madison Barton, Reporter

With 34 clubs at West, there is a chance students may not know all of them. Not everyone may not be aware of the more “unknown” clubs. Every student is encouraged to join a club, sport or some kind of activity to get involved. With all these choices, there is no way a student cannot find what they are looking for.

Participation in extracurriculars can increase students’ tie to the school and their willingness to participate, therefore decreasing failure and dropout rates reports Extracurricular Participation and Student Engagement

A majority of clubs do not have requirements to join allowing virtually any student to participate in their extracurricular choice. It is clear that participation and success could lead to higher achievement, attendance, and goals for participating students. 

West is one of six schools in the state with a Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Club. HOSA is an international club known at West as the Health Careers Club. With eight senior members and advisor Brandon Yoder, they have meetings to talk about future plans in the different fields and involvement in different health-science organizations, they visit colleges and look into new opportunities, as well as get support for internships and compete in competitions. 

“It benefits students with not only the internship opportunities, but it helps students become more familiar with that field… We help students begin their future career plans,” Yoder said. 

This club is not just for those going into the medical field. They have different focus areas from behavioral health, public speaking, and other health-science related fields. This club helps students become familiar with their future and what they want to do or even realize that maybe they don’t want to go into that field. 

“The challenge is that a lot of the competitions and extra things you do you have to do extra studying for… I think it still benefits in that fact they get more exposure to the health-science field,” Yoder said.

Counselor Stephanie Reagan advises multiple clubs, all of which are available for anyone to join. WINGS is a club for high school girls learning about different job backgrounds, confidence, leadership, and responsibility. This club is sponsored by Junior League of the Quad Cities and different sponsors come in to talk to girls about leadership, confidence, and career, and finance options.

“The hope is to organize a junior high conference allowing the high school girls to mentor the junior high school girls, and go on different field trips,” Reagan said. 

 They also travel to different conferences, meet different women role models in the community, and help others through volunteering while exploring different leadership programs. They help each member branch out of their comfort zone, meet new people, along with several other activities.

“The main focus of this club is to help girls build confidence and have plans for their future… any girls that feel like they want to work on their leadership skills or confidence skills, or want to help other girls, this would be a great club for them to join,” Reagan said.

Working at West for 28 years, moving from building to building, teaching talented and gifted (TAG) classes alongside honors and regular classes across the curriculum and advising two clubs at West, TAG teacher Jay Swords busies himself with Medieval Club and Destination Imagination (DI). The Medieval Club uses a theater-style teaching aspect. Students are told to come up with personas and to learn about medieval history and specialize in it. They then create presentations, manage a classroom, come up with lesson plans and present them to elementary, middle and even high school classes in some cases. 

“Around 20 years ago students had graduated, and at that point the club expanded from not just that teaching component then it became a real medieval family,” Swords said. 

With 17 students and 15 alumni, they don’t just make presentations at schools but learn about medieval history, travel to festivals, hold feasts, and continue to bring their members together. Swords has been an advisor for this club for 23 years. It has evolved from just a medieval group to an opportunity to learn about medieval history, figuring out if teaching really is for you, and being able to be a part of a family. 

“It became something that I had no idea it would be when I first started it,” Swords said. 

Along with the Medieval Club, Swords advises DI. The club mostly consists of competitions rather than club activities. DI is an international competition that deals with creative problem-solving. There are teams set up and are given a category or problems that they work on for about two months, the problems include architectural, science, theater, or improv related problems. Students then present their solutions at the state level, to move on to global finals. This competition includes 20 thousand kids competing and presenting their solutions. 

“It’s going to take those long hours to be viable and so that’s the challenge for DI,” Swords said, “It really is a cool thing and I hope DI will resurrect again.”

DI is not just a club that students just participate in. It takes teamwork, communication, and quick thinking. Though it is challenging and more time consuming, it is beneficial. It can take hours, but and exciting opportunity. 

“I think DI is a really cool thing to be apart of but what most people don’t realize is that is a lot of work,” Swords said, “I would love for it to take off again.”

Being apart of extracurriculars is one of the best ways to get involved at school. Students not only get the chance to learn something new or be apart of things but get the chance to meet new people they may have never met before that. Here at West students have plenty of choices whether or not they want to join a sport or a club. 

“I think that being apart of something like this really changes students lives and brings them together,” Swords said.