by Madelyn Evans - February 26, 2021 - Interacting with animals, planning and discussing charitable events, and making friends are just some of the many opportunities that Animal Club offers.
photo by ERIN MCKINNEY - During Animal Club, students have the chance to do yoga in the very presence of young goats.
Animal Club meets every Friday at 1:30 in Mrs. Erin McKinney’s classroom, room 2423. Like its name suggests, Animal Club has anything and everything to do with animals. Throughout the year, members enjoy the chance of interacting with a variety of animals that they may have never been able to be up close to. Along the way, many make new friends and discover new passions that may have never been experienced before.
“We have done goat yoga,” Animal Club sponsor Mrs. Erin McKinney said, “Zoo'opolis has come and brought a variety of unique animals for us to interact with. This year students are bringing in their own pets to introduce to members of the club as well.”
Mrs. McKinney has been a sponsor of Animal Club for around four years. Besides being fond of animals herself, Mrs. McKinney stated that she also enjoys being able to interact with students “when it doesn't involve academics.”
“[Animal Club] was started by students who wanted to raise awareness about animals and share their passion of animals with other like-minded students,” Mrs. McKinney stated.
Activities that are done during meetings usually vary depending on what is happening. There are times where students get to prepare events that the club is involved in, such as Barktoberfest. Other times, animals come and students are able to learn and interact with them. Not all students necessarily have to participate in everything.
“Some [students] prefer to do more of the community service aspect [and] others want to come in when we have animals,” Mrs. McKinney stated.
Though there technically aren’t appointed leadership roles, there are still committees. Students inform Mrs. McKinney about what ways they are interested in and want to be involved in the club at the start of the year. Some may want to step up and help out with more of a community service aspect in the club, while others may want to just interact with animals. Students who may want to lead are able to participate in community service like projects, such as helping prepare for events that the club is involved in. Many students enjoy doing both. In the end, students enjoy working together as a team.
“...I actually get to be a part of something that makes me happy,” Animal Club member Alyssa Merceri (10) said, “I have also made new friends.”
Many Animal Club members see how unique Animal Club is compared to other clubs. Along with the exciting interaction of animals, Animal Club frequently supports places such as the Hamilton County Humane Society. Some of the events include Barktoberfest and Egg-PAW-Looza. All funds raised from these special events are donated to places like the Humane Society.
“My favorite activity was definitely Barktoberfest [it] literally was the best day of my life, I had so much fun [and] I love seeing all the different dogs with their costumes,” Animal Club member Presly Silverman (10) said.
Barktoberfest is a community event that involves people bringing their own dogs for fun activities. It only happens once a year in October, hence the name Barktoberfest. Activities such as pet costume contests and agility courses are just some of the many things to do at Barktoberfest, hosted in Asa Bales Park. All of the funds made during this active event are donated to the animals in need at the Hamilton County Humane Society. Not only does Animal Club impact its community, but also its members.
“This club has shown me a kind of light happiness I hadn’t experienced from going to school,” Animal Club member Gavin Hargrave (11) said.
Animal Club’s unique interaction with animals, heartwarming events, and numerous members make the club a highlight of many student’s high school experiences. The club’s features allow many students to find their fit at Westfield High School, along with the bonus of animals. Many students gain new friends, as well as a new respect for animals.
“I’m happy I got the opportunity to join Animal Club and I will definitely be here my senior year too,” Hargrave remarked, “It’s had a major impact, I made friends, met my awesome girlfriend, and it’s helped me look forward to school.”