In the midst of an unusual school year, Branson students continue to create new clubs

By Natalie Wendt

Civil Discourse at Branson

Maddie O’Keefe, Leighton McCamy-Miller and Michael Paper, all juniors, created the Civil Discourse at Branson club for respectful conversation and disagreement among students about important political issues.


The leaders came up with the concept for this space at Branson over the summer, but watching the first presidential debate in September solidified their purpose for the club.


“It was just pretty hard to watch, and the general failure of politicians and the public to see compromise threatens the prestige of American democracy, and we wanted to do something to implement civil conversations at Branson,” said O’Keefe.


So far, there have been three meetings, in which students have discussed the topics of gun control, wealth distribution and progressive taxation, and hate speech. 


“We purposely choose controversial topics, and then we try to facilitate the discussion, so that eventually, we can reach some kind of compromise about the issue,” said O’Keefe.


The leaders recently connected with Tom Ehrlich, who works in civil discourse education, and they are hoping for him to speak at a future meeting about his experiences as an educator in his field and how to reach compromises.


“[Civil Discourse at Branson] is small, but it does strengthen American democracy by helping more citizens be able to reach compromise and have experience in those politically controversial conversations,” said O’Keefe, “It’s good to be a part of a conversation that isn’t one sided and learn how to voice your opinion.”


Branson Soccer Club

Ian Lind, a junior, and Finn Dossey, a sophomore, created the Branson Soccer Club for students to talk about and play the world’s most popular sport.


As one of the club’s first activities, Lind and Dossey organized a fantasy soccer league. 


“Fantasy football is really big and popular, so we wanted to do the same with fantasy soccer … That’s been really fun so far,” said Lind.


When it is safe for clubs to meet in-person again, the leaders plan to do soccer-related activities on the field and watch professional games on TV together.


“There are some really fun games that end up happening during lunch, so we want to do watch parties,” said Lind. “We also thought it would be fun to do some brackets, like March Madness, but with soccer.”


Lind urges everyone to join the Branson soccer club to learn more about soccer and meet new people, regardless of if they have any prior experience with the sport. 


“This is a club for anyone who’s interested or wants to get interested,” said Lind. “You don’t have to know anything about soccer or you can know a lot.”


Fishing Club

Jessica Le, a senior, started the Fishing Club to share her passion for fishing with the Branson community. She aims to help students, faculty, and alumni learn about biology and appreciate the outdoors.


Le has grown up fishing, but she encourages everyone to join the club and try something new, even if they’ve never fished before.


“I’ve always been really into fishing since I was a little girl, and I think that fishing is kind of seen as a boy sport,” said Le. “I’ve been planning on making this club since freshman year, but I’ve always been way too timid to do it. As a senior now, I think I would regret it if I never started it.”


In the process of creating this club, Le connected with Larry Lack, an expert in fly fishing, a former biology teacher and a current fly-fishing teacher at College of Marin. So far, the club has held classes where Le and Lack talked about the basics of fishing.


“Fishing is an interesting way to learn about science through the lens of something that would normally be considered hunting,” said Le. “It’s a misconception that [hunters] don’t care about the environment, but they’re actually some of the strongest conservationists and environmentalists.”


Le also emphasised the importance of getting outside, especially when attending school virtually, and how Marin is the perfect place to do so.


“This is something you can take outdoors on your own time, especially since we live in Marin, we can take advantage of our outdoor spaces. We’re so close to Phoenix Lake and Lagunitas. If you’re privileged enough to live close to this natural beauty, you should take advantage of it,” said Le.


Video Game Club

Juniors Sage Sanderson and Ellie Jones created the Video Game Club to share their love of video games with the larger Branson community.


During meetings, they not only play games but learn about and discuss them. Sanderson and Jones recently presented to students on the history of the Console Wars between Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo.


“Both of us just really love obviously playing

but also talking about news in the video game community, upcoming games, and the history of video games, so we wanted to start a club where we could do all of that, but with the whole school,” said Sanderson.


They also played Among Us at one of their meetings and have more plans to play video games together once it is safe for clubs to meet in-person again.


“We want to bring a Nintendo Switch to school, and then we can play MarioKart in a classroom on one of the big screens,” said Sanderson, “I think that would be really fun.”


Sanderson encourages everyone to join, especially students who enjoy playing video games but don’t know much about the gaming industry. 


“You learn something deeper than just the basic knowledge of “Oh, I like video games”. We can teach you something interesting you might not have known,” said Sanderson, “And you can have a fun time playing games!”


Global Crisis Club

Jason Akram, a senior, started the Global Crisis to foster global citizens by creating a space where people who want to discuss international events and conflicts can come together.


Each meeting, the club members choose a topic, research it and discuss the various perspectives on this issue. Recently, they talked about the Iran missile crisis and the views of global superpowers in comparison with the perspective of civilians in Iran. 


“The goal is to get a broader understanding of the world and how [these powers] interact together,” said Akram, “It’s really important, especially in our globalized world, to understand the different forces at play.”


Akram encourages passionate people who want to learn more about global events to join the Global Crisis Club.


“I think what this club is really good at is breaking down the actions of others and figuring out what is the root cause and what is the impact of these events on a global, national, and personal level,” said Akram.


The Music and Film Club 

Juniors Jack Paradis, Amanda Morris, Alex Orum and Reid Morris created the Music and Film Club as an outlet for students who are passionate about music and film to come together and discuss these works of art.


Paradis had the idea for the club during quarantine, when he, like many other people around the world, turned to music and movies for entertainment. 


“I want to make a space where anyone could come to during clubs to chill out, listen to music, and talk,” said Paradis. “When quarantine first started, I needed something new to keep busy, so I started to listen to more diverse music and watch more movies.”


During meetings, students play games like “Name That Song” and share their “listens of the week” with the group, as well as talk about current events in the entertainment world.


“We do presentations sometimes about what’s happening in the music industry right now, who the top artists at the moment are, and what they’re releasing,” said Amanda Morris, “When Miley Cyrus released her “Heart of Glass” cover, we did a big presentation on that.”


In the future, the club plans to watch and discuss short films, clips from movies, or even one full-length movie over the course of several meetings.


“It’s a great group of people always having fun. Reid played the sitar during one of [the meetings]. That was really exciting,” said Amanda Morris.