By Wendy Lawrence, Inspire Contributor
We all know that Eastside Prep loves connecting people, whether through interdisciplinary conversation or a meaningful social gathering. But another key way our students connect with each other is through the teams, clubs, and activities that happen outside of class times, in fields, corners, and classrooms all over campus and beyond.
A WAY TO DISCOVER A NEW INTEREST
Students love that EPS activities are always open to all—anyone and everyone is encouraged to join, connecting not only with other students but with new passions as well. Sophie (’23) started robotics in seventh grade and is now a veteran on the team as a junior. “One
of my favorite things is seeing new people joining the team,” she says. Once the new kid herself, Sophie is now the mentor.
Anhat (’26) loves that everyone at EPS is so welcoming that you feel you can join any student activity at any time. That’s helped her join things she’d never done before and never thought she would. “I’d always wanted to do a sport, but I never started. Now I play basketball and volleyball outside of school, too.” EPS also encouraged her to get into theatre, which she did as a sixth grader and continues today, even assistant directing a recent play. The encouragement of the EPS community doesn’t just welcome students into new groups, it keeps them safe there. “People won’t get you down when you make mistakes,” says Anhat. “They will always build you up.”
Of course, sometimes an EPS activity is a chance to find a lifelong interest and hone it in the school environment. Josie (’24) came to EPS as a volleyball player, so joining the team as a freshman was an easy decision for her. “I got to know the upper classmen and I wouldn’t have known them anywhere else,” she says, thinking about the many ways the sport keeps her connected to the school.
Mina (’23) also brought her own experience to her EPS activities. “I joined chamber choir in freshman year because I had done it for a long time outside of school and it was a big part of my life.” She loved the first two concerts and that feeling of making music with people—and then COVID hit. It was hard to do choir over the computer, but she stuck with it because it’s such a part of her life. Now that we are back in person—and now that she’s a junior and not a freshman, Mina is a mentor to the younger students. “I get to welcome them into the community.”
A WAY TO CONNECT WITH FACULTY
A lot of EPS activities are student-run, which is a highlight for the kids. When Eamon (’22) started Debate in eighth grade, the team was mostly run by students. But the teacher managing the events, Mr. Ho, was an important connection. “Being able to talk with him about Debate outside of class was great. This year, he’s still open to reading my cases and giving me feedback,” says Eamon. It’s…another way to connect with my teacher and it’s really great because I value what he brought to Debate.”
KAITLYN (’28) SAYS DEBATE HELPED HER CONNECT WITH OTHERS WHEN SHE STARTED SCHOOL AS A REMOTE LEARNER. AND ONCE YOU MEET FRIENDS IN A FUN ACTIVITY, WHY WOULD YOU STOP?
Filip (’24) appreciates how a connection made in athletics can go beyond the field. “Sports helps me connect to the adults in my school because it gives us a natural topic to talk about so we can form real relationships. A lot of the teachers are also my coaches, which lets me have a personal connection with them in the classroom.”
A WAY TO CONNECT WITH FRIENDS
Many of these students started their own clubs, connecting their passions with others in their school community. For example, Nehal (’28) started a club called Creativity Unlocked. She immediately found faculty support and a large group of interested students—seventeen at the first meeting. They do a lot of different activities—magic tricks and paper folding, to name a couple—and the student-led experience has been great. It’s also been a wonderful way for Nehal and others to connect with students in other grade levels.
Grant (’23) didn’t know anyone when he started at EPS, but he joined the Fusor Team after seeing it at an Open House just because he liked the idea of it. He stays “because there’s always new stuff to do and new challenges—we aren’t going to finish this any time soon.” Grant didn’t know anyone when he started at EPS, and Fusor and Robotics are where he’s made a lot of the friends he still has now. Kaitlyn (’28) says Debate helped her connect with others when she started school as a remote learner. And once you meet friends in a fun activity,
why would you stop?
From athletics to arts, clubs to academic teams—there are so many opportunities for students to create and build connections within our community. And the lasting impacts of those connections cannot be underestimated.