Extracurricular Extinction

While some clubs and teams continue to attract members, those that require commitment and active participation are finding their attendance dropping.

Leila Hogan and Laaibah Taiyyeb

Attendance of Osbourn High School’s numerous extracurriculars is declining, as student organizations struggle to recruit new members to replace outgoing seniors. 

“People don’t really want to do things unless it interests them,” said sophomore Kyle Salcedo, who is involved in several extracurriculars including Theatre, Show Band, and Ping Pong Club. 

“I’m afraid of Ping Pong Club dying, just because it’s run by seniors,” said Salcedo. He believes underclassmen have a responsibility to keep the clubs alive. “Seniors seem more expressive, and more open to joining other clubs than freshmen, because freshmen just stick to doing their thing at school.” 

It’s not just new clubs, either; many long-existing extracurriculars are also vulnerable to this trend. Some suggest other reasons for the lack of attendance:

“Girls on the team have to leave early because of work,” said junior Brittneyann Hoover, a member of the girl’s lacrosse team. “Also…it’s harder for students to attend [when] they have homework or a test coming up. We lost half of them because the girls were struggling in their classes.”

Perhaps this trend of declining attendance has amplified because of increased class rigor for underclassmen. 

“I’m taking all honors classes, I’m in an AP class, and theater is everyday and when I’m free I sometimes have choir rehearsal,” said freshman Kylee Donovan. Donovan expressed that she would like to be more involved in extracurriculars but couldn’t because of other commitments. 

“I really wanted to do softball, but because of the play and Winter Guard I decided it was too much, so I didn’t,” said Donovan.

These students are part of a number of highly engaged students are involved in a numerous amount of extracurriculars, while the remaining student population generally does not participate in any.

Teacher sponsors of extracurriculars can offer some perspective on this trend. David Frederick, sponsor and mentor of Osbourn’s FIRST Robotics team for 13 years, felt that he has seen a gradual decrease in students on the team. 

“I don’t know if kids are joining other activities, or just going home and doing nothing or if they need to be at home to support their family,” said Frederick. “All I can do is talk to kids and tell them the benefits of it.”

Frederick signified the advantages that come with getting experience through extracurriculars like robotics. Without student participation, these opportunities will become more limited.

“When you’re a junior and senior, this helps you get into college,” said Frederick. “It opens up doors for interviews and scholarships.”

Frederick recognized that attending the meeting from five to eight is difficult for some students, which is why team members also have the opportunity to do work starting right after school.

Model United Nations, run by history teacher Michael Rannells, is facing a similar predicament. 

“The time and the interest are not there,” said Rannells. “We might not have Model UN next year, because I don’t have the demand [from] the students.”

Some clubs, on the other hand, are very much alive. Super Smash Bros. Club, a laid-back gaming club also sponsored by Rannells, has had a noticeable increase in participation.

“It is a club that is not academic and gives the students time to relax,” said Rannells. 

Although activities like Super Smash Bros. are thriving at Osbourn as manageable, fun clubs for students, they don’t provide the academic and career opportunities other programs, which require more commitment, do.

  Whether it’s responsibilities at home or commitment to classes, unmanageable timing or general lack of interest, it is assured that the problem of declining club attendance will continue to have a measurable effect on student opportunity if something does not change.

“I would love to find ways to bring in kids that don’t think they fit in or feel like they can’t participate in clubs,” said Rannells. “I think the kids that are invested in extracurriculars, even just one, are far more successful in their four years than the kids that aren’t in extracurriculars.”