School is your job, as a kid. And whatever parents who don’t remember their own school days say, it is a difficult job. You have hundreds of coworkers, bosses who often don’t respect you, strict hours, tedious, repetitive tasks, promotion is by seniority not merit, you can’t get into management at all, and you take so much work home with you that you need luggage to hulk it back and forth. It is work.
In elementary school, you get recess, but by middle and high school, any recreation is up to you. However, there’s an upside to this: You can start clubs.
Most if not all schools have a procedure for students to open and maintain clubs on almost any subject (within reason). Requirements are usually low–a faculty sponsor, a statement of intent, and a show of interest.
Start with the statement of intent, or proposal. Get in writing what you want to do and what you need to do it. Film club? Access to a classroom or auditorium for viewing, equipment, a small budget for rentals or purchases. (Not many schools have money to give student-run clubs, but it never hurts to ask.) Table-top roleplaying club? Exclusive use of the student lounge once a week after school and a place to keep a big gridded whiteboard. Bird-watching? A chaperon for early morning walks twice a week in season. Get it all down in writing, and try to anticipate any questions the administration might have so you can be ready with answers.
Either along with the proposal or once it’s been looked at, draft your club’s constitution. Who’s in charge? What are their responsibilities? What are the rules? What happens if they’re bent or broken? What regulations does your club have for fundraising? There are a lot of boilerplate club constitutions online–find a good one and tweak as needed.
The faculty sponsor might be the hardest part to nail down. Teachers are busy, busy people, and a club is a lot of work even if all you think you need them for is to unlock a classroom and hang out. Approach politely and carefully. Flatter them a lot. If they still turn you down, ask them who they’d suggest instead.
Some schools require you to submit a list of students already interested in what your club offers. Do not fudge this. Make a Facebook page or hand out info cards–do the actual legwork to see how many people would like to join you, so you have honest numbers. Most of these interested parties won’t show up, but that’s okay. The school wants to know that you don’t want a club for just you and your clique to hang out.
That brings up a thing: Clubs have to be open to the entire student body, or at least your entire grade. If you have a school-sanctioned club, you have forfeited the right to turn anyone away no matter how you feel about them personally. It only takes one person unfairly excluded for the school to shut you down with possible repercussions for any officers. Be very familiar with your school’s code of ethics–it’s available for you to read at the office. But if your club is genuine and friendly, it’s a very easy line to toe.