The power of the pupils: Closeup on student clubs

Sam Mwakasisi, Editor-in-Chief

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One of NN’s most defining traits is harboring a multitude of communities in its after-school clubs, but what’s the common thread of some of the hottest clubs that have most recently been popping up? They’re all student-founded.

Mental Health Education Club

For those interested in spreading mental health awareness, consider joining Mental Health Education Club, one of the most burgeoning new clubs NN has to offer. MHEC, which also goes by the name of the nonprofit organization Erika’s Lighthouse, meets every other Thursday after school in room 1400.

The club is directed by senior Samuel Schwartz alongside sponsors Kerry Powell and Mary Richards, and it engages in humanitarian efforts to, in the words of its motto, “break the stigma” surrounding mental illness and promote proactivity around the school.

MHEC regularly invites speakers with powerful mental health-related stories and frequently collaborates with other clubs, such as Israeli Club and Pan-Asian Student Association, to showcase the universality of mental illness alongside its societal perpetuation.

“I’ve seen the terrible effects that can come from mental health issues, so I want to help bring change to impact our community within NN and Skokie,” Schwartz said.

Talking About God Club

For those interested in an open religious dialogue, look no further than Talking About God (TAG) Club. Meeting every Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. in room 2045, and headed by founding senior Peter Sahyouni, conversations develop around a single given topic, like the afterlife or the ethics of world suffering.

“In our day and age, there’s this taboo on talking about God,” Sahyouni said. “In reality, it’s one of the most important subjects we could talk about because it affects all of us. Personally, when I started seeking answers to those ‘God questions’, it changed my life for the better, and I’m hoping something similar can happen to other students.”

One of the most important things you need to know about TAG is that it isn’t a Christian-exclusive club; most of the energy of the club’s discussions comes from them being open-ended, allowing perspectives of multiple religious or non-religious backgrounds to coexist.

Moreover, TAG is a different club from the similarly God-oriented Agape Club, which meets on the same day in the same room, but after school.

Niles North in Focus

For those interested in photography, Niles North in Focus (NNIF) – also known as Photo Club – is the club for you. Meeting Wednesdays after school in room 1685, sponsored by art teacher Alethea Busch and led by founding sophomore Micah Bettenhausen, NNIF is a space where aspiring photographers and photo editors can improve their crafts.

With access to industry-standard cameras, lighting, and software from the fine arts department, people are allowed to improve their individual crafts and additionally collaborate with other students of similar or different creative interests.

“Everyone is an amateur photographer, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone,” Bettenhausen said. “My goal is to bring the joy that I feel when I take pictures to all.”

Our Pace

For female students who are interested in joining a friendly community where they can pursue a healthy lifestyle, Our Pace may be a good home for you. Started by senior Kaitlyn Homa and meeting Thursdays in student activities after school, the all-girls club has an immediate objective of giving females a space for independent workout sessions, but dedicates itself to the deeper goal of character building.

“With my club, I hope to reach out to the woman at our school struggling to find their confidence as I once was before,” Homa said. “I see the wider importance of Our Pace in ways such as bringing girls together to really empower each other like never before.”

These are just several of the multitude of student-run clubs in the walls of Niles North, and whether it’s supporting fellow students or getting inspiration to lead your own club, we hope this inspired you.