Spreading Fellowship through New Clubs



On Thursday, Sept. 3, just over 800 upper school students crowded onto the concrete between Askew and Pressly. Whether running around with friends, strolling around the white plastic tables stealing free food, or being force-fed hundreds of flyers, Westminster students were all congregated for the 2015 club fair.

This year, Westminster welcomes a host of new clubs, among them the Rock n Roll Club, Westminster Hip-Hop Cultural Appreciation Club, Barbecue Club, and Circle of Women.  

Among the most well-known of the new additions is the Rock n Roll club, a musical cumulation of the best rock songs. The Who’s “Heaven and Hell” blasts from Askew 204, home of faculty advisor to the Rock and Roll Club Jesse Breite. As the song concludes with “and never die, never die, never die,” 15 students begin by introducing themselves with their favorite artist and song. Some members are dancing, and a passion-fueled discussion ensues. The club centers around the appreciation of rock and roll genre that spans over 50 years. According to the club’s head, junior Owen Ladner, members will study the history of rock and roll, the techniques of rock and roll bands, and listen to the genre’s music. They plan to analyze the albums and share opinions of rock and roll masterpieces. The group will start with music by artist Chuck Berry and meet every Wednesday after school.

“Nothing happens in a vacuum. It’s music. Everything is music…We kind of have no concrete direction,” said Ladner. “We’re going to be playing it by ear. We’re all gonna be morphing the club…discussing and learning in our communal knowledge of the genre.”

Music-loving Westminster students are also active in the Westminster Hip-Hop Cultural Appreciation Club.

“The purpose of this club is to educate the members and the Westminster community about the cultural identity of hip hop,” said junior Spencer Breitzke, founder and leader of the club. “I have a passion for hip hop and I know a lot of people do at this school. It was a way that we could come together and talk about it.”

The club boasts an 86-member Facebook group where essential albums of the week are posted every Sunday, as well as song and album recommendations on Tuesdays and new releases on Thursdays. In addition to the face-to-face meetings, the Facebook group provides a medium for discussion and immersion in hip hop for all members at all times. Breitzke plans to move the course of study from old to new, starting in 1991 and progressing through 2015.

Humans engage in community not only through music, but also through food. Thomas Morse, faculty advisor of the barbecue club, envisions bringing together the social and academic aspects of barbecue. The club, which has yet to decide on an official name, has almost 100 members, mostly from cross country and football teams. Club founder junior James Dickey’s father founded a barbecue club at Holy Innocents, and they felt that it was crucial to start a similar type of fellowship at Westminster. The club involves much more than getting together on Saturdays and grilling food.

“It’s more than just a social thing. There is going to be an academic component,” said Morse. “I want to make sure they learn something, and it might spring off business opportunities beyond Westminster…It’s not a way for them to get out and do nothing. I’m…going to….hopefully have [the club] sustained over time. I want to make sure there is a community connection with the barbecue club at the school.”

In addition to making barbecue, members plan on making their own sauce or rub, studying the history and mechanics of barbecue, attending barbecue festivals, and maybe even challenging other schools in barbecue contests. The barbecue club’s vision is to educate members of the historical, social, and cultural perspective on barbecue in a fellowship environment. Morse wants to bring Westminster’s many different social groups together over barbecue.

Finally, the newest addition to Westminster’s network of global community outreach is the Circle of Women club. Students from other Circle of Women chapters have built a school in Afghanistan, renovated a school in Pakistan after an earthquake, built dormitories in India, constructed an expanded classroom block at schools in Malawi and Kenya. This year, Circle of Women, a 100 percent student-run nonprofit founded by three Harvard roommates, will have an active chapter at Westminster. Circle’s mission is to increase access to high school education for girls who need it. The Circle of Women’s motto is to collaborate with communities eager to implement innovative, sustainable, and localized solutions to increase girls’ access to secondary schools (circleofwomen.org). Part of Circle of Women’s challenge lies in finding a community and learning its needs before being able to attempt meeting them. Members will organize fundraising and awareness events around campus and in the community ranging from a basic donation-based fundraiser to a 5k race to an Instagram campaign.

“One of the coolest things about Circle is that our average donation is maybe 20 dollars, and we get grants that are 20,000 plus dollars,” said Circle of Women board member and Westminster chapter faculty advisor Liza Cowan.

Students will also participate in discussions surrounding the issue of education including why disparities in opportunities for secondary education exist and how the issue can be solved.

“This was the most important thing I did in college…We’ve been really excited about the turnout,” said Cowan. “We learned about the problem and what Circle looks like as a solution.”

After receiving 150 signups at the club fair, the first of the biweekly meetings was held in Warren Lecture Hall, run by junior Florida Huff and sophomore Frances Mize.