Student involvement is important at any level of school, but especially in high school. Students who are involved in extracurricular activities in high school have a greater rate of success academically; have better school attendance; get into trouble less frequently; and have a higher graduation rate, as compared to students who are not involved. In response to the importance of student involvement in schools, Montevallo High School recently held a student club and organization “Rush”, similar to the process used by college fraternities and sororities.
The goal of the event was to identify and engage students, who were not involved in extracurricular activities, or to find and recruit students who were looking for additional opportunities in school. It was planned and developed by a number of students and staff with the hopes of getting students genuinely involved. The goal was met as more than 60 students signed up for at least one extracurricular activity.
Every club, organization, and student activity group at MHS created signs and promotional items for the event. Student organizational leaders and club officers promoted their programs to students and actively recruited students to join their respective groups.
An inviting environment was created were students felt encouraged to participate and get involved, instead of feeling forced or pushed to do so. It was also beneficial that students were recruited by their peers, instead of teachers, staff, and other adults.
Principal Wesley Hester believes that this event created a lot of excitement for all students involved, and it helped develop more school pride, understanding about various organizations and opportunities, and resulted in an enhanced level of respect between organizations.
“This was a great opportunity for students to come together, find out what opportunities are available at MHS, and promote the organizations and activities they already love and believe in,” said Dr. Hester.
As a specific example of how Rush Week affected organizations at MHS, twenty-one students have completed applications for Future Teachers of Alabama, and if everyone follows through the chapter will have grown by 50% to a total of 42 students.
“Rush Week gave me a chance to talk to students that I would have never met and tell them why I have chosen to become a music teacher,” said Dylan Sanders, MHS student and President of FTA.
“I think this was an awesome opportunity for the students to see what all is available for them to be involved in at MHS” added Anita Glover, Library Media Specialist and Honor Society Adviser. “Not only did they get to see the vast number of choices, but they also got to personally inquire about them with students who are passionate about their organization.”
Lee Pastor, SGA Adviser at MHS said sometimes lack of student participation comes from not knowing what organizations are offered at a school and in the community.
“Having an organization/team “Rush” raised awareness of our many organizations and activities at MHS, which has increased our student participation,” Pastor said.
While this is the first year a student club and organization “Rush” has been held at MHS, plans are to expand the event and reach out to students at MHS and possibly Montevallo Middle School.
“This program is student-driven and because it is student-driven, it has the potential to grow exponentially,” Dr. Hester said. “We’re excited about how it began, and we’re even more excited about its growth in the future. Student involvement and ownership in school is such a key component to the success of students and the school as a whole.”