Club Expo is one of the most popular events at Concord Academy, providing opportunities for new students to learn about the clubs at CA and for the whole community to socialize. This school year, however, Club Expo had to be adapted into an online model due to the pandemic.
On Friday, September 25, 2020, Club Expo began with an all-school meeting at 8:00 p.m., followed by unstructured time for new students to browse a master slideshow of individual slides with descriptors of each club until 8:45 p.m. Students were then encouraged to join individual Zoom meeting rooms through links on each slide to learn more information.
Freshmen found the slideshow as a helpful introduction to various CA clubs. Natalie Samulka ’24 stated, “I wouldn’t have known as much [about] the clubs I wanted to join [without the slideshow], because it’s really overwhelming when you just have a long list. I liked how it had pictures of the kind of things you will be doing and each one is so different.”
Students held a range of opinions regarding instructions and the individual club Zoom meetings. Natalie enjoyed the unstructured nature of the event, and explained, “I actually liked the freedom because it made it more fun. It felt less like school and more like you’re just wandering around.”
On the other hand, Mary Wan ’24 commented, “I feel like there should be instructions on the first few slides about what’s going on in the Zoom rooms.” In some cases, it is awkward for students to join a meeting in the middle of another conversation, and club heads were mostly repeating the information on the slides in Zoom meetings.
Thomas Crowley ’24 added, “I wish it’d been [clearer] that you were supposed to go onto the Zoom meetings after you read through the slideshows.” Club cohead Rachel Hu ’21 had a similar opinion on the confusion over when to join the Zoom meetings, illustrating that she received numerous notification emails about people joining her Zoom rooms well before 8:45 p.m., the intended starting time.
Furthermore, communications between club heads and the organizers before Club Expo was not very efficient. Rachel explained, “We each had our own signup forms, but they also sent out a huge signup form at the end of Club Expo. If they told us that they would be sending out that club form afterward and there would just be fewer forms to keep track of. A lot was left to the coheads, basically.”
Zachary Tung ’22 noted, “I wish the requirements for the slides were a little bit more specific. A lot of transparency [would be] really good, just to let us know what the requirements are, what we need, and what we don’t need.”
Regardless of the upsides and downsides the new structure of Club Expo brought, the event still served as a platform for students to connect. As Mandy Adams ’24 shared, “I was just excited because I wanted to get more active in the community, to meet new people, and to make some new friends.” The club heads enjoyed the opportunity to meet the freshmen class as well; Rachel chatted with Grace B. Kalere ’24 in the Mock Trial meeting room until 10 p.m., well after Club Expo had ended.
Eric Liu ’21, the student vice head of school, reflected that organization was harder because they did not have the complete list of the coheads of clubs, and communications through email were less efficient than holding a meeting as in past years. He remarked, “For the future, we will definitely communicate more to the whole school, during announcements, and send more reminders and instructions on email and Schoology.”
A huge amount of effort went into Club Expo preparations, from testing out different technological settings on the organizers’ end to designing slides, arranging Zoom rooms, and marketing merchandise on the coheads’ end. As Eric said, “Shout out to Zahaan, Brett, and Sally, and to all the coheads who put their hard work into the event!”