New clubs attract students

Seniors Cade Swayne and Spencer Wittkorn play a game of chess during a Chess Club meeting.

Rebekah Porter

Seniors Cade Swayne and Spencer Wittkorn play a game of chess during a Chess Club meeting.

High school is an opportunity to try something new or to continue something you’ve loved. While there are several opportunities for students to get involved such as sports, music and various clubs, students always have the chance to start a new club such as fishing or chess.

This year librarian Erin Holder decided to approach administration about starting a chess club. Last year when Holder had a dealer’s choice theme in the library where students read for however long they wanted to play a game, several kids wanted to play chess. So, Holder decided to start a new club at the high school level.

“I feel completely inadequate to teach these guys because all I really have is a basic knowledge and passion for chess, but we have some really awesome leaders within the group who have chosen to step up,” Holder said.

Senior Nick Zimmerman has been playing since he was four when his father taught him to play. Zimmerman is in a leadership position in the chess club. He helps others learn to play and answers many of the questions that come up.

While the club is still new and has had only a few meetings, Holder said she was happy with the number of students interested. Over 40 students approached her after the initial information meeting at the beginning of the school year, and 27 students showed up to the first meeting.

“I’m very impressed with the turnout, but I think we could get more too,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t think we’ve taken enough measures to get people interested in chess. For example, we haven’t advertised that you don’t need to know how to play the game to join chess club.”

Players are separated into two groups, casual players and tournament players. Tournament players work more on strategies and take practices more serious while casual players don’t plan to go to tournaments but just want to play for fun.

Practices begin at 3:15 p.m. every Thursday, but students can always stop by the library when it is open before or after school and even during lunch to play a game.

At the beginning of practices, students go over tactics and basic game strategies before getting with partners and playing.

Holder said they plan to compete as teams at one tournament a month. Anyone can go as long as there is transportation and the student knows basic game and tournament rules.

“If you have any interest what so ever, come, you don’t have to be a professional chess player,” Holder said. “If you know nothing about chess, I will teach you. You don’t have to be competitive, and you don’t have to come every single time.”

Chess isn’t the only new club this year. Last year, seniors Chase Voth Brandon Hoffman and Corey Hale talked to administration about a fishing club. The club has officially started and had 60 kids show up to the first meeting, but they are still deciding on how often they want to have meetings.

Everyone is welcome and the team plans to participate in fishing tournaments in the spring.

“We hit all kind of levels of fishermen,” instructor Heath Meder said. “Some  of the people who are joining  have barely fished at all and some kids have their own boats and are doing the tournaments.”

Hale said he liked not knowing many of the members because it is a good opportunity to break out of his comfort zone and meet new people.

“All are welcome,” Hale said. “We created this first of all because we love to fish and second is we want everyone at Hays High to share common interests. It is amazing how many people still ask about wanting to join.”

Instructor Jenifer Younger is also starting Tribe Art Club, an opportunity to bring together those who truly care about art.

“The students want to have this club to be a place people can come get inspiration and help with their work if needed, as well as become involved in the community by exhibiting work in the gallery walks, visiting local artists, as well as the FHSU art department,” Younger said.

The club meets once a month and requires its members to have no more than two unexcused club meeting absences per semester, good standing in the community, a 2.0 minimum GPA to participate in activities, and a desire to improve their art ability.

“We would love to get as many students involved in art as possible,” Younger said. “This is a student-driven club, so the club will do as much, or as little, as the students desire. We are very excited to get started.”