Environmental clubs build school community


Trail Club on a hike in Harpers Ferry (from @phs_trails on Instagram)

Charlie Matia, Staff Writer

Over the last 10 years, Poolesville clubs which focus on the outdoors have helped build a stronger community.  The two main clubs that have accomplished this are Poolesville High School (PHS) Trail Cub and PHS Bay Coalition (BayCo), and they have done this by targeting outreach to underclassmen and peaking interest of local middle schoolers.  The PHS BayCo was started about 10 years ago.

“The founders went to a student-led leadership course, and one of the things they learned was how to protect the Chesapeake bay,” said BayCo sponsor Mr. John Sparrow. “So when they came back to Poolesville they founded this club” 

The origins of BayCo are steeped in history of leadership and engagement, which have served to strengthen the community.  One of the main things that the club does, besides protecting the bay, is running all of the recycling at Poolesville day, a celebration at Poolesville in September that can draw as many as 10,000 people.  While also engaging in the broader Poolesville community, BayCo has made headway in the smaller school community to bring people together.  BayCo does targeted recruitment of primarily freshmen in the Global Ecology program.  Although the allure of a club focusing on the outdoors may be especially strong because people in Global have a predisposed interest, the fact that a club whose main focus is the outdoors puts such a priority on underclassmen recruitment is telling of the culture and values of this club.  

“BayCo is made up mostly of underclassmen,” said Co-President Anniee Fang. “We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen, some juniors, and every single year BayCo will go to the global block to pitch out club, even Mr. Sparrow helps with advertising.”

BayCo uses the outdoors as a means to bring people together for community service and social activities. Another Club that focuses on the outdoors is the Trail Club.  This club was founded last year by a group of Global students, because of their appreciation for hiking and environmental consciousness.  

“There has been a pattern of underclassmen joining the club,” said founder and Global senior Jeremy Epstein. “We got a lot of sophomores and freshmen who are really active in the club which gives me hope for the future.”

Epstein is proud of how Trail Club has facilitated socialization and positive interactions between people who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to interact.  

“My club has encouraged people to socialize across grade levels through trips like backpacking Shenandoah and skiing Whitetail.  Freshmen, sophomores juniors, senior, they all know each other in the club and will hang out or say hi to each other in the halls… running this club has given me better connections to people across grade levels”

Trail Club has also done targeted outreach.  Epstein believes the results have been fantastic for the Poolesville School community, making student feel more welcome using the outdoors as a means to build connections.