MacDuffie’s New Clubs 2019

Alison Jackson, Ian Hua, and Vincent Buono

ASL Club

This year, senior Savannah Richard created a new club at MacDuffie for learning American Sign Language, or ASL. Richard wanted to introduce ASL to the community because MacDuffie does not offer it as a class, and most people at the school are unfamiliar with the language. 

Richard’s goal for the end of the year is to have members be able to “turn to each other and have a conversation… in ASL,” she said. 

Richard originally picked up ASL around second or third grade. Recently, she also took an ASL class at the Palmer Public Library. According to Richard, the class focused on “how to begin communicating” rather than accumulating vocabulary, and she will use a similar style when teaching ASL in her club.  

“I want to focus on having basic conversational techniques and also helping people to watch and be able to understand signs,” she said. 

For the “basic foundation” of ASL, Richard plans to use companies called Signing Savvy and Signing Time, both of which she said she will utilize more for learning vocabulary. To teach more complex skills such as understanding signing at a realistic speed and having conversations, Richard will use other resources including movie clips. 

The club will be “relaxed and open,” with meetings once every two weeks at different times to accommodate members’ schedules. Richards added that since much of what she will be teaching can be found online, missing meetings is not a serious issue. 

Art teacher Jena McNerney is the club’s advisor.


Barbershop Club

Senior Hanghe “AC” Cao has built up a reputation as the local barber among the boarding community, and he has recently created a new barbershop club at MacDuffie to spread his expertise even further. 

To run the club, Cao partnered with senior Alex Nguyen who will schedule and plan meetings for the club while Cao teaches and demonstrates. Nguyen will also demonstrate how to perm and dye hair. 

Because of his experience, Cao hopes he can positively impact the community by making something as common as haircuts more accessible (while helping them save money). 

The two have other goals besides cutting hair, however. One of the issues Cao recognized as he cut hair for boarders was communication, and he hopes to solve that. 

“They cannot get a good [haircut] not because the barber is bad…they don’t really know how to talk with the barber- they haven’t ever learned that,” Cao said. He gave several examples of instances when he was cutting hair and only received vague instructions like “trim my hair just a little bit shorter” and even “I don’t know what kind of hair I want.” As a result, improving communication with barbers is one of their main goals, though Nguyen specified others. 

“We want this to be a thing that carries on to next year when we’re gone… our goal is to maintain this club for as long as possible. We want this to be a part of MacDuffie, where you can get good haircuts here,” he said. 

In meetings, Nguyen said his plan will be to start at the basics, including “how to talk to barbers, what are the types of cuts that are the most popular…” and later on the club will move on to “more technical stuff like perming hair making the hair curly and dyeing hair,” he said. 

Anyone can join the club, however, the club will focus on cutting mens’ hair, since Cao and Nguyen are most experienced in that area. 

Cao and Ngyuen will hold meetings in room 1309. Head of School Steve Griffin is the club advisor. 


Light Art

At last week’s Club Fair, a MacDuffie tradition in which all of the school’s clubs hold booths to give students the opportunity to join these clubs, one booth literally stood above the rest—a large tripod with an attached video camera sat atop the table, and several cameras were scattered around it. Curious students would discover that this club was none other than Light Art, which provides students with the opportunity to pursue photography and videography outside of a classroom setting. 

When junior Raymond Xia first came to MacDuffie, he was eager to join a photography club, but soon found that there was no such club at MacDuffie. Thus, Xia decided to take matters into his own hands and create one himself, which would become Light Art. Along with senior Pitt Pongpittayapa, who specializes in video editing, and senior Clarke Cui, Xia created a photography and videography club where students could “share ideas about taking pictures” and “have fun,” in the words of Xia. 

Students do not need any prior experience with photography and videography in order to join Light Art, as Xia said that he is “thinking of teaching all members basic rules and how to use cameras.” Due to the high volume of sign-ups for Light Art, Xia plans to separate club members into a group of those who have photography experience and a group of those who have never tried photography. 

When speaking of his motivations for creating Light Art, Xia said, “There’s a lot of people in the school that have the talent to capture the moments in life. However, they just don’t have the opportunity, so I want to provide it.” Xia also mentioned that he hopes to create a photography exhibition for the projects of Light Art members, considering MacDuffie already has a similar showcase for visual art and dance. 

In addition to a possible photography showase, Xia would like to take Light Art club members on field trips to take photos in nearby towns, as he hopes to make a documentary-style photo series that features pictures of local individuals. 

Those interested in joining Light Art can contact Xia, Cui, or Pongpittayapa with any questions.


Unity (Tap Dance) Club

Although different styles of dance classes, such as hip hop and jazz, are being offered for the first time this year at MacDuffie, it seemed that there were no opportunities for those who are interested in tap dance. Yet this is no longer the case, as one of MacDuffie’s newest clubs will offer tap dancers of all abilities the chance to hone their skills.

Unity Club began as an idea of junior Belle Yang, who began tap dancing in the third grade and won a championship for the dance style as a sixth grader. While she took a break from tap dancing for several years, Yang said that she wanted to resume dancing by creating a tap dancing club at MacDuffie. Yang began Unity Club with the hopes of helping students “build confidence on the stage,” as she said that “most people didn’t have the opportunity or chance to perform on the stage.”

In addition to building confidence, Yang’s goals for members of Unity Club include learning a “short amount of tap dancing skills” as well as being able to show their skills to others when asked if they are tap dancers. 

Though she may be a champion tap dancer herself, Yang intends to create a laid-back atmosphere in Unity Club and welcomes dancers of all skill levels. Yang believes that clubs at MacDuffie serve as informal

opportunities to “develop people’s interests,” and emphasized that the dancers in her club do not have to be “very serious about tap dancing” or have “extensive training.” 

“I just want people to relax,” Yang said, and mentioned that she will begin her tap dancing instruction with the most basic skills. Specifically, Yang plans to show club members an instructional video and then teach them the tap dancing techniques herself. Depending on the amount of improvement that club members make, Yang is considering choreographing a dance for club members to perform.

At the moment, Unity Club will meet once or twice a week in MacDuffie’s dance studio, and those interested in joining must purchase their own pair of tap shoes. Those with any questions about Unity Club can contact Yang at [email protected]


Environmental Club

Junior Charlie Nguyen decided to make a new club that would help our environment. “I started this club with the hope to find people that are interested in protecting and creating a positive impact on the environment around us,” Nguyen said. This club is for people who would like to give back to there community. Nguyen’s main goal is getting people together so they can sign up for volunteer projects. 

“Together, our club can volunteer in environmental projects such as river cleanups, raise awareness about environmental pollution, and fundraising for nonprofit environmental organizations to create a bigger positive impact on the community,” Nguyen said. 

Ukulele Club

Senior Mike Nguyen decided for his leadership practicum that he was going to start a club on how to play the Ukulele. He also had another reason on why he wanted to help teach people play this instrument. 

“Last year, I got to perform Pachelbel’s Canon during the Spring Concert in April. Then, Mr. Kaminski told me that this was the first time the ukulele was performed during the concert. I felt rather shocked because the ukulele is such a popular instrument,” Nguyen said. 

Director of Information Technology Ed Gray has experience in playing the Ukulele. Starting a club here at MacDuffie is to teach people about it. 

“I created the club to inspire others to play and to appreciate this underrated instrument,” Nguyen said.