What do Robotics competitions, Latin “Jeopardy ”games, stand-up comedy and Model UN debates have in common? They are but a small sampling of the wide-ranging and exciting co-curricular activities being pursued by Brearley students. On any given day at 610, girls may be found planning community service events, rehearsing with choruses and orchestras, writing for student publications, working with 3D printers, learning sign language and debating student-self government. As noted by Upper School Head Evelyn Segal: “The broad range of our students’ interests and the depth of their commitments to their co-curricular activities is extraordinary.” Whether a student’s interest arises from classroom discussion, conversations with friends or other experiences, Brearley’s clubs and activities promote collaborative and leadership opportunities while honing a range of valuable skills.
Throughout their Brearley years, students can choose to participate in a variety of both School and student-led initiatives. In Lower School, girls may participate in afterschool programs offering arts and crafts, cooking and indoor and outdoor play. Beginning in Middle School, offerings broaden to include activities sponsored by the School (such as Orchestra and Chorus, Student Government, Math Team, Carpentry, Photography and Theater) and expand further in the Upper School to include student-initiated clubs (such as the Environmental Action Committee, Classics, Creative Writing, Global Girls and Debate). Upper School students also have the opportunity to create and shape their own activities through the creation of a Common Interest Organization (“CIO”), which functions as a club “incubator.” With the help of an advisor, a student may submit a CIO proposal for approval; an approved CIO may apply for club status after two years. Clubs traditionally have two co-heads, and must meet certain reporting and other administrative requirements.
The School’s schedule incorporates meeting opportunities throughout the day to ensure that girls can participate fully in the many co-curricular offerings, and each club or activity has a faculty advisor. Dean of Students Sheila Kramer praises the faculty’s dedication to the girls and their co-curricular activities: “Our faculty advisors are terrific mentors to the girls; they know when to help guide the girls and when to let the girls work through things on their own as part of the learning experience.” Adds Samantha Hosein, Brearley’s Student Life Coordinator (and Middle School Club advisor): “I love watching the girls learn how to take on roles in an organization; they learn how to plan events, facilitate discussions, create notes and records and make effective reports on club activities for their classmates.”
Participation in co-curricular activities not only provides girls with opportunities to pursue their interests and contribute to the School community, but also helps them learn new skills. While Brearley’s club participants are enthusiastically creating agendas, facilitating meetings, planning events, drafting reports and participating in presentations, they are developing talents in organization, leadership and public speaking. As Ms. Kramer observes: “Clubs and activities provide important opportunities to learn invaluable skills – girls learn to navigate an approval process, to set goals and to follow through to achieve those goals.” According to Ms. Segal, girls also learn valuable lessons about leadership: “Participation in co-curricular activities reinforces that there are many different ways to be a leader; you can play an important role as part of a team that helps to accomplish a goal without being the designated leader.”
Ms. Hosein notes that, in addition to the benefits mentioned above, co-curricular participation offers great opportunities for social interaction. “The girls are so supportive of each other and are so excited by successes they achieve on behalf of their clubs and organizations!” The freedom for students to create new clubs and experiment with a host of activities is a wonderful complement to the dynamic arts and athletics programs.