When Gov. Ned Lamont declared that all Connecticut Schools were to be closed for the remainder of the year on May 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Darien High School student-run clubs were seemingly quite prepared for the news.

Most have done a fantastic job at maintaining their community — and though it may be virtual and distant, it still feels close.

Choose Love

Choose Love is a club that exists in schools all over the world, spearheaded by Darien native Scarlett Lewis, an inspirational woman who lost her son to the Sandy Hook shooting. Their club’s purpose is to spread awareness for choosing love, not hate, and keeping positivity in times of struggle. Read more about Choose Love at https://www.jesselewischooselove.org/resources/choose-love-movement/.

Marley McCarthy, president of Choose Love at Darien High School, states how they, in conjunction with many DHS clubs, have moved forward with meetings.

“We have been keeping our club going with weekly classroom updates with activities,” McCarthy said.

She also stated that they created a Zoom meeting for members as well, and hope to continue weekly scheduled gatherings.

“There isn’t a lot to do when we aren’t together, but staying positive and letting everyone know that this uncertainty is something everyone is experiencing!” McCarthy said.

Student Governing Board

The Depot Student Governing Board is another example of a club that has genuinely maintained their traditions to the best of their ability. The Depot Student Governing Board is a club run through the Darien Depot, overseen by Janice Marzano, that goal is to create events and fundraisers to raise money for the Depot while volunteering at local events as well. Each year, the juniors in the club create a surprise themed “Senior Send-Off” to celebrate each Senior who served on the board. Obviously, this year the celebration was postponed, but that in no way stopped juniors Ridgely Gargano and Lizzie Canelli from trying their best.

“Lizzie and I were in charge of planning the Senior Send-Off Party, and since we could not actually see each other in person we wanted to come up with another way to thank the seniors for everything they have done for us, and how they have been such a good influence on us,” Gargano stated.

The two juniors created custom T-shirts with each senior member’s name on the back. They delivered them to each individual’s mailbox with a kind note and their favorite candy.

“We did it to appreciate everything they have done for not only the Depot but for us as well,” Gargano continued.

“This pandemic may have stopped us from having a send-off gathering, but these shirts will last longer than the gathering would have!” Canelli stated.

For more about the Depot, visit https://dariendepot.com/

Respect Works

Respect Works meets twice a month at The Depot and is mentored by Darien Domestic Abuse Council. This club is sponsored by the Darien Domestic Abuse Council and The Depot Youth Center.

Read more about the council at https://www.ddacinc06820.org/.

They recently created a video to raise awareness of domestic violence and teen dating violence. (above). Watch the video on Darien TV 79’s Vimeo Channel.

Youth Asset Team

The Youth Asset Team is a club run by Darien’s Community Fund, overseen by Emily Larkin. The club meets every other week at the YMCA, and because that is impossible now, they have taken advantage of virtual learning environments for their club as well. Last Thursday, the club had a virtual meeting in the evening with Larkin in attendance as well as Andrew Tepper, a therapist that attends Youth Asset Team meetings as well to educate club members. Members shared coping mechanisms for their stress, ways to minimize screen time, and shared recipes and TV shows they have been loving before moving towards a virtual election for next year’s leadership.

Although all clubs are taking different steps to keep their communities knit, they almost all are succeeding in different ways. Katherine Dimoulas, vice principal of DHS, sent a note to all DHS student body on May 6, encouraging clubs to keep up their hard work. She asked that all clubs hold virtual meetings in May, and offered to help support any ideas any clubs may have for virtual events of fundraisers.

They all have one thing in common, though: They can’t wait to be back together!

For more about the Community Fund, visit https://www.communityfunddarien.org/

Lily Genovese is a senior at Darien High School and a regular contributor to The Darien Times. If you would like to share what your club is doing to keep going during the school closure, email sshultz@darientimes.com.