Starting a School Club
If your school is anything like ours, starting a new club will require a teacher sponsor and your principal’s approval. Lucky for us, both happened immediately. My friend Darby and I selected a teacher who we had a connection with. She’s not vegetarian or vegan but she’s warm, kind and open-minded — three traits necessary for this type of club. Next, we drafted a short presentation to give the school a sense for what we were striving toward: goals, values, potential activities, and first meeting agenda. The fun part was coming up with a club name, logo, and tagline. We landed on Compassion Crew: Saving Animals Is Our Thing. We reviewed everything with our teacher and then sent it to our principal. It was approved that day!
Darby, our teacher sponsor, and I had to figure out ways to promote our club so we could get students interested in joining. We created flyers, which we left in our school’s main office, and had the first club meeting information as part of daily morning announcements. We also used social media, specifically Instagram (give us a follow at @compassioncrew1). We met with the assistant principal and he approved all promotional activities. Right after students began hearing about the club, they approached us to get more details and to see if they had to be vegan or vegetarian to join. We assured them everyone was welcome regardless of where they are in their journey toward living a cruelty-free life (we learned this from Gene Baur). Our club mantra is to educate and not shame anyone for eating meat, and we want every person interested in joining our club to feel confident they will be accepted and supported.
Darby and I were extremely excited for our first club meeting, and came up with many great ideas for activities. We showed Their Future in Your Hands, a short film about the cruelty animals face in our world and then had a group discussion to see what resonated most with club members. We are tapping into local speakers to come talk to the group, too. Local vegan chef Jamie K. of @save_the_kales is going to show us how to make vegan nachos. At every meeting, we plan to give members a small sampling of vegan food prepared by us. (For the first meeting, we baked chocolate chip cookies!) We plan to hold a vegan bake sale, where all our club members can bake vegan desserts and we can sell them at different school events, such as our annual musical and school dances. This provides funds for our club and for Farm Sanctuary, while also letting people experience delicious vegan food. We’re exploring a community film screening and hope to visit a local farm animal sanctuary so students can meet the animals and fall in love with them as I did. We believe it’s important for kids to interact with the animals who make up their meals. It’s the most effective way for kids my age to make the connection.
The most important thing to remember when starting a school club is to keep an open mind and to refrain from any judgement of non-vegans. As Gene Baur says, “Nurture even small positive steps, as these tend to empower people and build momentum toward bigger steps.”