Summit Virtual Academy will take different approach to student clubs

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Summit K-8 will not only offer clubs for its students, the virtual school plans to work them into its daily schedule.

Summit Principal Amy Pruitt said the school plans to offer most of its clubs virtually regardless of whether traditional students are attending classes in person. Clubs will have dedicated blocks of time during the instructional day: half an hour for club time for K-2 students and a full hour in the schedule for grades 3-8. The school is planning its first round of club meetings on Sept. 14.

Some clubs, like an N.C. Envirothon team, may meet at Horizons Unlimited for practice in the future, though everything will be virtual for the time being.

The school is in the unique position of creating all of its clubs from scratch. Pruitt said faculty members were asked what they would like to share with students. Some interesting topics that may be part of the club landscape at the school are cooking or creating herbal teas from an herb garden.

Summit cross-curriculum teacher Michelle Lopez said clubs are not finalized yet, but she is interested in offering Spanish dance and yoga clubs.

When the district at large returns to in-person instruction after it is safe to do so, Summit is embracing the virtual setting that defines it. Lopez said the physical clubs are well-suited to virtual settings — where students can practice outside of the view of everyone else while they are learning.

She has heard other teachers talk about wanting to offer clubs on subjects like origami and magic, and the hope is there will be something every student would like. The school has about 2,700 students, double the size of the next-largest school in the district.

The clubs Lopez wants to offer do not require supplies for kids to take part in the activities. They can expose students to more cultural practices and even give them something they can teach their families.

“I’m very excited about the clubs, because I want to engage with the kids,” Lopez said.

Pruitt is also director of Horizons Unlimited, which offers summer programs each year and went virtual this summer with a number of club-worthy topics like video game development. Faculty are going to try to reinstate competitive clubs, which have been missing from the district, including Science Olympiad and Envirothon.

Pruitt views clubs as more important for virtual students who may have less social interaction than their traditional counterparts attending class in person.

“The whole purpose of a club, whether you are an adult or a child, is to be with people who have like interests, want to talk about, explore and create as a group,” Pruitt said.

The clubs also give students the chance to interact with other people in the virtual school, including teachers and students outside their grade levels, who they would not encounter otherwise.

Summit students were already surveyed for what kind of enrichment courses they want to take and will be surveyed for interests in clubs as well.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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