By Mihika Badjate
I remember as a seventh grader, attending the start-of-school assembly and being absolutely mind blown by the number and diversity of electives offered. That feeling returned in the second semester of eighth grade when I realized it was time to choose my electives for freshmen year, but this time, it was closer to panic than amazement. There were so many factors to consider in choosing the right extracurriculars: the classes I was interested in, the electives my parents thought I should take, the activities that looked good on college applications, and the classes I would eventually have to take to get enough credits to graduate. Not to mention that with only seven block periods, I had to be judicious about what I chose because my choices would affect my schedule for the rest of high school. Whether you’re a seventh-grader anxious about choosing the right classes your first year of junior high, or a second semester senior looking to fill up your time, choosing extracurricular activities is a struggle. Below, I’ve listed a few extracurriculars that I have really enjoyed throughout junior high and high school, and why I think they are great options.
Debate was one of those activities that I wasn’t so sure about, but did because my parents thought it would be good for me. However, from the very first class, I knew that I wanted to stay in debate for the rest of high school. All through junior high, I was nervous speaking in front of people, but debate has really helped me overcome my fear. This transferred into my normal classes as well, making it easier to give presentations for subjects like history or science. I’ve also gotten used to thinking on my feet because in some debates you get very little time to prepare and have to come up with refutations and examples instantly. Constant debates over current world issues have also broadened my knowledge about what’s going on in the world around me. I would definitely recommend trying out debate, because even if it seems scary at first, it develops important life skills and is just a really fun activity!
Going into ninth grade, I knew I wanted to do journalism, because I have always loved writing and wanted to expand my skills. I found the class interesting because journalism was a completely different style of writing, unlike anything I’d ever written before. I’ve learned so much about writing, editing, interviewing, and formatting, and I’ve gained a new perspective on the articles I read in the news everyday. The class has also taught me good time management because it is important to be mindful of your deadlines—you can’t write an article the night before its due date since you need to conduct your research and interviews. Journalism is a great extracurricular if you want to learn something new and develop your writing skills, but is also really rewarding for the work you put in—nothing compares with the satisfaction of seeing your article in print in the school newspaper!
Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, performing in a play, taking a dance class, singing in a choir, drawing, or photography, the visual and performing arts (VPA) are great to consider when choosing your electives and extracurriculars. Many schools have a certain amount of VPA credit needed to graduate, but regardless of requirements, the arts are an important creative outlet and break from the stressful school day. I participated in plays in elementary school and junior high, and it definitely fosters a sense of teamwork and community. I’ve also enjoyed participating in choir throughout high school. However, for those not inclined towards music or the performing arts, visual art is similar in how it fosters creativity, and provides a welcome break from a hectic school day.