Building a school club (aka an empire) requires more than a few authoritative signatures. You will need strength, determination, organization, a Spotify account with a password you remember, and a personal pack of minions to get this club engine roarin’!
Back in the day (sophomore year), my only option for joining a creatively productive club was my school’s lit mag. Lit mag was run entirely by seniors who were none too eager to share duties with underclassmen. One day, in that very club, I whispered blasphemous things to a pal about starting our own club for zines—and that is how Zine Club was born.
Now in our second year, Z.C. is established, though we are still learning. We have published three copies of Zine Club, hosted two launch parties, and have made zine-ing friends from all corners of the globe. But that’s just the good stuff. We have also endured a presidential split, hate from the haters, and financial struggles. Below is the advice I offer to you, Future Club Leaders of the World:
The most important piece of this club-puzzle is the people, and your best people are going to be your pals. Running your operation is going to be a heck of a lot more fun and generally more awesome if your friends are involved. I see you, person in the back, thinking you are completely capable of taking on this responsibility-lion by yourself. I am you of the future, pleading with you to start this thing with the grand support of your acquaintances!
Club advisors also can be a beautiful thing. We all have that one teacher who we want to be maybe sorta friends with, or at least can trust to not make fun of our fandoms, et cetera, so what better way to get the conversation rolling than to ask them about advising your club? For Zine Club, I knew my freshman English teacher, Mrs. Scharf (ayyyyyeee <3) would be the pink to our lemonade. Not only was she a built-in supporter of the literary arts, but she also had a flair for the funky. Since becoming advisor of Zine Club, she has fought for us when school administration was being too administrative, when anyone lost their chill, and that one time the “tech crew” was lagging on our Spotify download (sigh).
The foundation of your club is going to be a solid idea and mission that you are psyched about. When the masses inquire about your sparkling new club, you are going to realize the importance of the one-liner mission statement and knowledge on the subject (apparently, making excited noises and/or gestures doesn’t get the message across). Zine Club was pretty hard to describe, especially before it officially existed, so it helped to have a short-n-sweet spiel for administrators and prospective members: “Zine Club is a creatively open platform for students to publish their work and, most importantly, their OPINIONS, which are generally suppressed by popular media, society, exclusive publications, or plain fear.”
Once you have assembled your reason for being and your people, your new club is about ready for take-off! To do so successfully, it is essential to begin with some type of game plan. I HATE wasting my time and going to a club that ends up being a bunch of people from the same clique talking amongst themselves. When I and many others attend a club meeting, we want to be enlightened with awesome teen-smarts that we wouldn’t have the chance to engage with during regular school hours. I mean, we didn’t choose to be in a classroom during our only free period for nothing!
So, plan a basic meeting strategy. Zine Club meets every week on Thursdays, where we go over announcements, ~get creative~, and listen to Nicki Minaj and/or Best Coast, all while feasting on our never-ending supply of Dum Dums. Because people, including me, can depend on Zine Club meetings to be chill, interesting, doodle-y, and sugary, we have gotten ourselves a nice group of dedicated members. Find your niche in the great, big, fertile chunk of land that is high school, and start digging.
I knew that Zine Club was capable of drawing a crowd—if only people knew it was a thing! If you are on the brink of launching your baby club, it’s time to…PICK! YOUR! PROPAGANDA! Popular forms include fliers, in-school TV announcements, and business cards. I recommend that you or one of your new club members create your version of a logo and a flier design that you would want to examine if you saw it in the bathroom stall. You may think that this goes without saying, but even my tenured brain forgets, at times, to put the date and meeting place on the flier in the midst of all of the exciting beauty that is our poppin’ propaganda. Don’t forget!
The second part of advertising is placement. (The Twilight series never would have taken off had it been filed under “Developmental Psychology” section of the bookstore.) Your fliers will have more of an impact if they are posted in key areas such as…
- The backs of bathroom stall doors!
- Bathroom mirrors!
- Doors to classrooms!
- Lunch tables!
- Windows of respected teachers’ classrooms!
And little cards are great for taping under desks (sneaky!) and innocently dropping around campus (whoops!). You can graduate to James Bond-level promo by strategically slipping your cards into library books.
The first time your club assembles will likely be the simultaneous best and worst moment of your club-life: I was incredibly nervous and, therefore, a bit like an over-caffeinated young chimp. Remember to stay calm and keep clubbing! Concentrate on executing the plan you created beforehand (see: “Activate!”). The first things I do when I walk into Zine Club is get the music going and the Powerpoint up. Then I chill for a bit. Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to people and be all smiley, so I park behind the computer desk and don’t come out until my plan forces me to the front of the room to share the good news of Zine Club. Even though I don’t always want to, I know that actual human interaction is key to keeping my peoples stuck on Z.C. Just BE YOURSELF! As the Prez of Zine Club, I am never completely not-nervous whenever I am in room 302 on Thursdays at lunch. But I just act really weird and real, and it seems to be working out. Pro tip: If you speak confidently, even if confidence is nowhere to be found, people will be into what you’re saying! Engaging people your own age and herding teens toward a certain goal can be an effort. But if you treat it like a priority and something that is world-rockin’, so will they.
5. Keep meeting!
Although the first meeting and first impressions are history, there is still the responsibility of maintaining your club’s awesome vibes and mission throughout the school year. You don’t have to meet every week—there will be inevitable periods of inactivity or plateaus—but try to stick to a regular meeting schedule as much as possible, and keep the environment open and interactive.
The biggest lesson I learned from Year One of Zine Club is to disperse the responsibility. In a year-long moment of delusion, I believed that I was actually five people and, therefore, could do the amount of things that five people could do for the club. Admitting that I was just one person and needed help from my friends/club homies has made Year Two a breezy, downhill ride.
And there you have it, club-starters! Before I bang the gavel and bid you farewell, I’ll leave you with a mini-zine containing a few more tips: