Saint Col’s Clubs Offer Loyola Students Opportunities for Student-Led Community Building

For Loyola Academy teacher Emily O’Brien, it’s important for students to be able to take ownership of their community. That’s why she moderates a variety of Saint Col’s Clubs for middle school students that allow them to participate in student-led groups after school. She oversees the Yearbook, Student Council and Creative Writing clubs. In their own way, each one offers students an opportunity to participate in something they enjoy in a safe space. With roughly 15 students in each club, students are able to express themselves and build skills such as following through on a commitment and taking ownership of the club.

“The best thing about clubs is seeing students interact with each other in an environment that’s not strictly social or strictly academic,” says Ms. O’Brien. “The students are pursuing what they are interested in and working together across grade levels in a positive community space.“

Ms. O’Brien has revived the Yearbook club, in which Loyola students are able to explore their passions of photography, event planning and writing. The school has not had a yearbook since 1993, so students are working together to explore new page layouts, event photos and content, and even voted on a secret theme for the yearbook.

“The yearbook is a good creative outlet,” says Ms. O’Brien. “Some students are very social and want to be involved in every event, while others want to practice their photography skills.”

Student Council Leadership Representatives Tatiyana Orrego-Dupree, Caroline Daly and Sophia Helena De Oliveira

The Student Council is now an after-school club, as it was offered during the school day last year. Students were required to apply in order to participate and must be in good standing with the school throughout the year. With representation from each grade, the Student Council offers students a voice while also providing an outlet for the student body to voice concerns and ask questions. Student Council members created their own rules for the group and selected Leadership Representatives within the Student Council:

  • Grade 8: Caroline Daly
  • Grade 7: Tatiyana Orrego-Dupree
  • Grade 6: Sophia Helena De Oliveira

“It’s important for students to take ownership over their community,” says Ms. O’Brien. “It’s exciting to see them so passionate; they have really great ideas.”

Ms. O’Brien also supervises the Creative Writing Club, which is open to students in grades 5 through 8. The group’s first project is developing entries for the Boston in 100 Words contest, which is an urban writing contest to describe everyday life in Boston in no more than 100 words. In addition to improving their writing skills, participants learn to provide positive feedback and share respectful opinions about their fellow writers’ work. Students will take the lead on brainstorming writing topics for the club, as well as types of writing, such as poetry and graphic novels.

“Clubs are not school,” says Ms. O’Brien. “They should be fun and student-led; the students’ input is valued and important to a successful experience for everyone.”