The summer is almost over and kids and parents alike are preparing for the start of school. Freshmen entering high school for the first time will be bombarded with the overwhelming newness of the campus and all that high school has to offer them.

One of the hardest obstacles will be determining which clubs or activities to join. Many high schools across the Valley offer in excess of 50 choices beyond music, theater and sports. Sadly, a small minority of students make up the vast majority of these clubs due to several factors, including lack of knowledge of a club’s existence, apathy among students, and lack of interest.

So how does a student begin to choose from the list? Many schools hold club/activity fairs during lunch or a special evening dedicated just for recruiting new students as members. Take the time to visit each and every booth and ask questions. Be open to all the choices you might have.

More importantly, think about your own interests. Are you interested in public speaking? Check out Speech and Debate or Drama or Model UN or Academic Decathlon. Are you interested in the medical field? Join Club Med, Sports Medicine, Cure for Cancer, or the Heart Health Club. What if you are interested in agriculture and science? Well, then you might want to seek out the FFA (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America), AIMES (Achievement in Mathematics, Engineering and Science), or Ecology Club. Then there are clubs designed for hobby enthusiasts such as the Cycle Club (for unicyclists), the Disc Golf Club, the Bowling Club, the Ping Pong Club, and so many more. Furthermore, you can find clubs for causes such as the Military Appreciation Club (when ROTC is not on a campus), Fashion Club, Future Educators of America (FEA), or African Legacy-Invisible Children.

Taking a foreign language or interested in learning about other cultures? Then you should join the European Club, Spanish, French, German or Japanese Honor Society, Sign Club, or the Polynesian Club. (Note: All clubs cited here are available at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School specifically, but most other schools have similar offerings.)

So many students are not involved in a single club and there is truly no reason. There is something for everyone. Being involved is so important because it helps create school spirit and makes you feel like you are a part of the bigger whole.

Furthermore, club membership may evolve into helping you make choices down the road as far as your career or college selection. You will gain confidence, new friends, develop relationships and learn new skills that will last a lifetime.

Time management and prioritization is another skill you will gain by being involved. You will have to know when the club meets, how long the meetings are, and how you will get home after the meeting. All of this requires planning and is important for all students to learn how to do.

Many students join clubs because it will look good on college applications. While this is true, colleges will be less impressed with a student who was a member of a different club every year than a student who picks two or three clubs and is actively involved in them from freshman to senior year. Colleges are looking for commitment, not diversity.

Whatever a student decides, the key is to get involved. Going to school from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with nothing else to break up the monotony makes attending school somewhat dull. It is better to get involved with an activity and find a passion that can make it more worthwhile to go to school and give you a reason to stay after even. Make the best of high school by joining a club or activity.

• Cassie Alber is an English teacher at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School and the speech and debate coach.

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