New clubs spring up for academic year

Students prepare tacos at Cooking Club during clubs period, October 7, 2022 – Pierce Laveran ’24

A year after clubs’ period returned to the post-COVID schedule, this academic year is marked not only by the return of community favorites such as Model UN, Mock Trial, and Robotics. Groups of students have also introduced a new spread of academic and passion-led clubs in the hopes of providing spaces for different community interests.

Among the new clubs is the American Computer Science League. Started by Sixth Former Dylan Kao and math teacher Mr. Alden, its goal is to create a space for coding.

“There haven’t been any extensive coding clubs [on campus], and I thought I might as well try and start one,” Kao said.

The ACSL creates competition opportunities for high school students in the fields of computer science and programming. 

“[ACSL] is similar to the AMC math tests. It’s a coding competition, but instead of working with things like algebra, math is done in things like base 16,” Kao said. “It’s essentially just like math with computers on steroids.”

The competition, which takes place in the spring, is open to students of all levels, ranging from beginners to practiced programmers. The competition takes place over a month, with each team given access to a 72-hour link. Winners progress through stages of the ACSL contest.

For students with an interest in computer science, Kao believes ACSL is a great opportunity.

“If people have an interest in coding or computer science, [ACSL] is definitely a good way to get into it. It gets into more than just coding certain projects like ‘Hello World’ and that sort of thing. You get into the deep roots of coding.”

DYLAN KAO ’23

“If people have an interest in coding or computer science, it’s definitely a good way to get into it. It gets into more than just coding certain projects like ‘Hello World’ and that sort of thing. You get into the deep roots of coding,” Kao said. “I think if you want to get deeper into computer science, it’s definitely something you should look into.”

Also in the STEM field is Fourth Former Nicholas Lu’s Machine Learning Club, which looks into algorithms and models that can learn or adapt. Machine learning is a wide-scale subject, and thus meetings currently have examined the field at large.

“Club meetings have mainly consisted of introductions to specific sub-fields such as computer vision, which focuses on deriving information from visual data such as videos or images, and Natural Language Processing (NLP), which focuses on processing and analyzing natural language data for a variety of results,” Lu shared. 

Lu hopes to develop a project in one of these fields over the course of the club’s meetings this year.

“If we decide to do a project about computer vision, we will probably work on object detection and classification in images or videos, similar to how self-driving cars are able to identify specific objects,” Lu wrote. “On the other hand, if we decide to work on a project in the field of NLP, we will probably either create an algorithm to determine gender bias or create a method of determining fake news.”

Despite the expansiveness of the subject, the Machine Learning Club plans to make technology accessible to the students.

“No prior computer science experience or knowledge is needed, [so] if anyone is interested in seeing and working with the future of technology, feel free to contact me or drop by,” Lu said.

Not all new clubs fall under science and technology, however. For example, Fourth Former Phineas Manogue, alongside Latin teacher Dr. Andrew Fenton, will run Certamen, a quiz-bowl-type trivia game covering Roman and Greek culture, language, and history.

The hope for participants is to go to tournaments this year.

“I think I’d like to get at least one team to go to one of the tournaments,” Manogue said. “Dr. Fenton is trying to organize something with Baldwin’s Latin Team. He’s trying to organize scrimmages and things like that.”

While those who don’t take Latin might feel dissuaded from participating, knowledge of Latin is not required.

Manogue said, “It’s a fun competition and you can really expand your knowledge of classics through it. You don’t have to take Latin. [Since] it’s a team of two to four when competing, a friend can handle the Latin while you learn the history and mythology.”

And academic pursuits are not the only offerings coming to clubs this year. The Interact Club, led by Sixth Formers Charlie Rosenberg and Luka Sekulic, along with help from Fifth Former Luke Fesnak, will forge inter-community relationships while also working on service projects beyond Haverford. It works in line with goals of the Rotary club.

This year, Interact hopes to grow.

“The Interact club is looking to expand potential partnerships in addition to growing Haverford’s engagement in volunteering [and] service,” Fesnak said.

“Completing jobs and tasks is an efficient means of feeling accomplished at the end of the day. To see the smiles and gratitude for your work is satisfying, regardless of what interests you outside of school.”

Luke fesnak ’24

As a service organization, the reward for members is getting to engage with others.

“I felt like joining last year because my time commitments primarily concerned the Haverford sphere only. After joining, it felt good to work with people outside your own community and have fun while doing so,” Fesnak said. “Completing jobs and tasks is an efficient means of feeling accomplished at the end of the day. To see the smiles and gratitude for your work is satisfying, regardless of what interests you outside of school. We are looking for anyone who feels the same way—and beyond!”

In addition to the Interact club, new organizations, such as the Art, Talent, & Technology, Star Wars Club, and Skiing and Snowboarding Club, provide opportunities for students to discuss their hobbies and get involved.