Student Life: Boarding School Activities and Clubs | Midland School

Student Life Highlight: Clubs

Honeybee Club checks in with the their hives

Spring 2021

On any given club night, you’ll find students dotted around Midland’s campus: a group collaborating on puzzles and eating brownies in our Head of School’s home, one gathered in our student commons to watch a documentary, another congregated in deep discussions about current events or planning an upcoming campus event, and that’s just to name a few. 

Within student life at Midland, clubs play an awesome and important role. Shifting from traditional definitions of clubs, at Midland, a club can be one of two things: one, the fun activities that faculty, staff, and students offer during student free time, and two, student-founded and -led affinity and interest groups. 

Thinking of that first definition, students are encouraged and have the freedom to create fun and engaging activities in their free time. For instance, each year, students lead a series of thematic fun activities, such as dances, movies (drive-in movie and taquería), coffee houses (talent shows), scavenger hunts, night hikes, board games nights, music performances, and Brain Bowls (trivia competitions among the classes), among many other half-holiday activities. This kind of student ownership (aside from being fun!) supports our students’ self-reliance and authentic leadership opportunities. 

The faculty and staff do their part, too, knowing that sometimes what our students need in the middle of the week is just to take the evening off, congregate in someone’s living room, and relax with delicious baked goods. On nights like this, our faculty open their homes to students, provide baked goods, show films, do puzzles, and more. They also offer opportunities for off-campus adventures, which most often means taking trips to the greater Santa Barbara and Los Angeles areas to attend, music, theater, and circus performances; film festivals; museums; cultural presentations and lectures; and student diversity conferences on issues of inclusion, equity, and social justice.

Thinking to the second type of club at Midland — those student-founded and -led affinity and interest groups — the sky is the limit. If you don’t see your passion represented here, it’s easy to start a new club! You’ll even see that some clubs were started this year!

Interest clubs are open to everyone, while student-led affinity groups are limited to the participants who can speak from the “I” perspective as it relates to their identity and lived experience. Here is a small sampling of current offerings at Midland:

  • Queercus: Named after the Latin word for the oak (Quercus), Queercus is our LGBTQ+ affinity and ally group, providing a support system for queer kids on campus and LBGTQ+ news to the rest of the community. It’s one of the largest clubs on campus and usually meets every Friday night during Tea Time (9:00-9:45 pm) to plan activities, share feelings and play bonding games.
  • Latinx: The objective is to have a relaxed, fun space for people who identify as Latinx and share that part of themselves with the community as a whole. Puts on all-school events and some exclusive to people in the affinity group and meets weekly.
  • Black Student Alliance (BSA): (new this year) Our Black/African-American students started BSA to connect, develop a sense of place, and explore issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice both on campus and off.
  • Culture Sharing Club: (new this year) Explore, celebrate, and honor different cultures through food, traditions, rituals, music, and the arts.
  • Best Buddies Club: (new this year) A portion of the Best Buddies nonprofit organization that is working “to end the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).” The organization works with middle schools, high schools, and adults to raise awareness and connect with the IDD community.
  • Environmental Club: Focuses on spreading awareness about climate change, climate justice, and current events related to climate activism. Members give environmental updates several nights a week at dinner assemblies about activism, news, science, and global events that they find interesting. Outside of Midland, the Environmental Club joined the Sunrise Movement, a national climate change movement fighting for climate justice and the Green New Deal, started by the Santa Ynez Sunrise Hub.
  • Common Ground: Community service and philanthropy oriented; members of CG identify a non-profit organization or humanitarian cause, organize fundraising efforts to benefit chosen entities.
  • Honeybee Club:  Centers around educating students about beekeeping methods and skills, apiculture, and occasional professionally-led workshops on the basic mechanics of the hive.
  • Social Committee: Consists of five central students and a dozen more partially active (though essential). In general, SC organizes school-wide events in the interest of building community, mostly in the form of clubs during half-holidays, including dances, movies, game nights, and class competitions (i.e., Brain Bowl).
  • Tea Club: Started by international students to share Chinese traditional ways to make, serve and drink tea. The Aroma Cafe (Tea House) opens during half-holidays multiple times per term.

Clubs of both varieties meet during half-holidays (what we call our students’ free time), as well as during designated club nights, giving students ample time to connect with each other and with faculty each week. 

While the enjoyment our students receive from clubs brings me joy, what I am always struck by is the way they express our students’ self-reliance, authentic leadership and care for one another and the community. By the time students graduate from Midland, they know and understand the importance of contributing to the community and leaving a place better than they found it, and they have, in part, their involvement in clubs to thank for it. 

By José Juan Ibarra
Dean of Students

Read more about José Juan.

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