New clubs offer students a place to debate, unwind

By Nia Jones, Teresa Lee and Katrina Nguyen

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As Cleveland tries to diversify its academic offerings, the school is also creating new avenues for student expression through extracurricular activities. From a debate club to a place to play video games, Cleveland’s clubs have something for everyone.

After several students expressed interest in starting a debate team, science teacher Clare Sobetski, stepped up to lead the new club. She has high hopes for the program, mentioning the idea was presented to her by sophomore Brooklyn Jimeno.

“I know that other schools in the south end have a debate program at their school, and Cleveland was missing that,” Jimeno said. “I feel like debate helps us with skills that people need.”

According to Jimeno, activities coordinator Bryan Gordon told her to seek help from Sobetski, who has a background in debate.

“I did debate in high school myself, and my brother is a debate coach,” Sobetski said. “Debate is really hard in the way that you have to find evidence and string it together to support your case. So, I think that it’s a huge skill that will help you in high school and college.”

With only eight students, it is one of the smallest classes at Cleveland. It is intended to help students boost their skills in public speaking, critical thinking and constructing an argument. Students enrolled in the class who are looking for other opportunities to participate can also join the Debate Club.

The group consists of freshmen and juniors, and attracts 10 to 15 people per meeting. Sobetski is planning to take the students to tournaments in November and December. Although she is not expecting the team to place top 10 in the tournament, she still wants them to have experience in tournaments and debate.

“This is a building ground,” Sobetski said. “Debate is hard, so it something that we can continue working on as a club. And I think it would be really exciting if someone got to states this year, but that’s like pretty big.

For students who are looking for something a little more lighthearted, Super Smash Bros. Club was started as a way for students to have fun while playing the video game. Science teacher Francis Lin advises the club and sees it as a way for kids to unwind after a stressful day of school.

“When I see kids go into Super Smash Club, a lot of them say it’s one of the things they look forward to most in the week,” Lin said. “There’s always a lot of energy; lots of people having fun.”

The club meets every Tuesday and Friday in Room 1205.

While it’s not a new club, the Black Student Union (BSU) has a new adviser. Sonya Urs has stepped in for Chev Gary, who organized the group for several years.

Though she does not identify as a black individual, that does not stop the 12th grade Humanities teacher from being involved in the black community. Urs facilitates the club because she enjoys teaching the topic, and she studied African American Studies in college. She is also a member of the school’s Racial Equity team.

Black students, or students who are an ally of the Black community, can come to meetings and discuss issues and challenges Black people face. Urs has stepped up and took a leadership role because she didn’t want to see Gary’s hard work in building the program fall apart.

“I enjoy teaching the students, and I also know without an advisor, we may not have had a BSU,” said Urs.

A complete list of clubs and meeting times can be found on at clevelandhs.seattleschools.org/student_activities/clubs.

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