Students, residents pack meeting to support non-curriculum clubs

Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-14 00:42:47-05

BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah -- Students in Box Elder County flooded a school board meeting Wednesday night weigh in on a proposal to ban certain school clubs.

The proposal gained pushback after two students tried to start a Gay Straight Alliance club, and then learned the next day the county was considering prohibiting them.

Box Elder High School senior Gloria Hammond only took the floor for a minute at the county’s meeting, but she was the start of a flood of comments that echoed her sentiments.

“Regardless of the GSA, I think that extracurriculars are really important,” said Hammond.

In October, Hammond tried to create a GSA club at her school and it was the road block she faced that packed the meeting in Brigham City. After she filed her formal application, Hammond said the school informed her they were considering prohibiting non-curriculum clubs altogether.

“I thought it would just be a simple thing to do,” Hammond said. “And it would do a lot of good for the school to build a sense of community with the students.”

Since September, the school board contends it has been considering getting rid of the student initiated groups, and their consideration had nothing to do with the GSA proposal.

Between the county’s two high schools, there are approximately 180 students who participate in the groups, such as the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

Before the groups are formed, students are required to show proof of student interest, as well as find a teacher who is willing to serve as an adviser. The clubs, according to superintendent Ron Wolff, receive no public funding.

“It would be a significant loss for students,” Wolff said.

The school board began reviewing the clubs as part of their effort to update and change some outdated policies.

“The policy needs to be updated,” Wolff said. “The state law provides you an opportunity to either go curriculum only, or non curriculum and curriculum.”

The hesitation to allow all clubs stemmed from certain athletic clubs that board members feared could be a liability for the school.

However, the possibility of some kids losing out because of a minority of the programs did not sit well with everyone, and the board voted in favor of allowing both types of groups.

“I think it would just be a really positive thing overall,” Hammond said. “And I don’t see how it could be negative in any way.”