Carlmont holds a virtual Clubs Fair to adhere to social distancing protocols

Students+look+through+Carlmont%27s+Instagram+page+and+club+website+to+look+for+clubs+to+join+during+their+free+time.+With+everything+online%2C+they+can+access+the+information+any+time+they+want.

Grace Wu

Students look through Carlmont’s Instagram page and club website to look for clubs to join during their free time. With everything online, they can access the information any time they want.

Holding a virtual event is no easy task, especially if that event is one of Carlmont’s most popular activities. The annual Clubs Fair was held virtually over social media this year due to distance learning restrictions. 

Using Instagram’s Stories feature, the Associated Study Body (ASB) posted videos introducing participating clubs on each day of the week starting on Monday, Oct. 5. 

“We have no choice,” Jim Kelly, the ASB advisor, said. “And whereas we have learned that some things might actually be easier in terms of access to the activity, it is simply not as good as being in person.”

Preparing for the Clubs Fair was vastly different from previous years due to the online format. ASB had to deal with the challenges of creating a virtual event that would engage the student body without any previous experience with an online format.  

“As with most of the processes for making decisions, I have told them that ‘there is a whole lotta IDK this year,'” Kelly said. “The process for deciding on Clubs Fair was based on what we thought would be best from intuition more than experience.”

In the past, Clubs Fair took place on a Friday during lunch, and all the participating clubs would set up booths in the Quad, offering information, treats, and sign-ups. Students would flood the Quad, eating and laughing with their friends while exploring Carlmont’s wide variety of clubs. 

However, this year, ASB’s Clubs and Culture Commission had to incorporate their vision for the clubs into a virtual setting. When deciding on the format for Clubs Fair, they considered how they wanted people to learn about Carlmont’s clubs and various communities. 

“A lot of it was going to stem from clubs introducing themselves on their own because the people in the clubs, and the club officers especially, can really share their passion for their clubs,” Sahana Srinivasan said, as the lead facilitator of ASB’s Clubs and Culture Commission. 

ASB finally decided on using Carlmont’s Instagram account to post videos of each club on the Stories feature.

“We wanted to simulate the experience of interaction through videos,” Srinivasan said. “We thought about posting a long video on YouTube, but we realized that it is a little more accessible on Instagram Stories. People could direct message (DM) @carl.monty or click on the club’s username and go look at the club’s Instagram page.”

After deciding on the platform, ASB collected the videos from each club and posted a few of them each day of the week, spreading out the videos so that the amount of club information would not be too overwhelming. In addition, they created a website with more information regarding each club and extra resources, including club presidents’ contact information and Zoom meeting links.

Even so, with all the videos playing back to back on Carlmont’s Instagram Stories each day, club leaders had to try harder to stand out to the students looking for a club to join. 

“I did not want it just to be my face, or just one or two people talking; I definitely wanted to show that Key Club is a very social, very big club,” President of Carlmont’s Key Club Ashley Zheng said. 

Key Club decided to put together a video that had members of the club jump in with short clips of themselves saying something they liked about Key Club. Other clubs creatively used transitions between clips and fun visuals to attract more students. 

ASB noticed engagement from over half of the school’s population, shown through Instagram statistics. 

“If you put in a club’s Instagram, like Key Club, for example, you can see how many people clicked on Key Club’s Instagram, or you can see how many people went from the Stories to the club’s website,” Srinivasan said. 

Having the videos stay on Carlmont’s Instagram page and creating a website for all the clubs’ Zoom meeting links and contact information makes clubs more accessible during distance learning. But despite being more flexible, a virtual event would never be the same as an in-person event. 

“We’ve seen the numbers of people participating are actually larger than when the activity was in person. Does that necessarily make it better? I personally don’t think so,” Kelly said. “I’m always going to lean towards in-person events, as I think that the quality of the experience outweighs the importance of quantity in terms of numbers of participants.”

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