At area high schools, variety is the spice of student life. At least that appears to be the case when it comes to extracurricular clubs, which offer students a great way to be involved with others who share a common interest.

All students – especially incoming freshmen – are encouraged to join a club as a way to be connected to their school community. Each high school has well over 40 clubs, some with national affiliation and others reflecting each student body's local and unique interests.

All four Northwest high schools offer traditional clubs, such as Key Club, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and Academic Decathlon. Three of the four also have an Anime Club, for those interested in the animation style popularized in Japan.

At Mountain View, the Invisible Children Club offers students a chance to help boys and girls affected by war in Africa. Marana High School's E.R.A.S.E works to educate students about racial discrimination. CDO has an Animal Lovers Club in addition to the more serious-sounding Mu Alpha Theta Math Club. At Ironwood Ridge, the Green Club created and maintains a garden on campus, and the Quidditch Club attracts fans of Harry Potter. One new club this year at Ironwood Ridge is BYOB, but it's not what you think. It's Bring Your Own Blades, for Rollerblading enthusiasts.

"There's definitely something here for everyone," said Ironwood Ridge teacher Samantha Bergen, who helps oversee clubs at her school. "And if there's not, there's probably three other students who are interested in the same thing."

Students are encouraged to start their own clubs, although all schools require a staff sponsor, and in Marana clubs must be approved by the school governing board. Many are strictly academic clubs or part of a national organization. Most varsity sports have a related club that serves as a fundraising group. For any club to receive tax credit money, students must file appropriate paperwork each year and elect a board, and strict rules govern how the money is spent.

At Ironwood Ridge, Bergen sponsors the Student Government Club, or STUGO. Part of their mission is to drive school spirit, and "what better way to be excited about your school than to be involved in something?" STUGO is hosting a club fair in the next couple of weeks to help publicize the more than 60 clubs at IRHS, and will also expand the Homecoming Parade this year by inviting clubs to enter their own floats.

Lauren Hagan is a Northwest parent who is writing about schools for The Explorer. Have something you want to share about our schools? Lauren may be reached at

Upcoming events

Wednesday, Aug. 25:

Parent Open House at CDO HS, 6 p.m.

Parent Open House at IRHS, 6 p.m.

Parent Open House at Tortolita MS, 6 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 26:

Parent Open House at Marana MS, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 28:

Mountain View girls volleyball golf tournament fundraiser at Arthur Pack Regional Golf Course, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 30:

Marana District In-Service Day – No school

Parent Open House at Coronado MS, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 1:

Mountain View parent resource organization meeting, Lecture Hall, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 2:

Parent Open House at Cross MS, 5:30 p.m.

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