New Clubs at HHS Political Science Union | Lattes + Literature | Chemistry

Reporting by Saira Ahmed and Karuna Chandran

Photo above courtesy of Miya Liu


Officers talk about the mission of their clubs, approval process

Political Science Union

CO-PRESIDENTS SHARE EXPERIENCES: Abby Berwick and Macy Li talk about why they started the Political Science Union club and what opportunities it can offer to the HHS community.

When junior Abby Berwick took a political science course at De Anza Community College, she was surprised by how much of the U.S.’s federal taxes go to the military, specifically 24% in 2018, according to National Priorities. Though Berwick may not have to pay taxes herself, she said she resonated with a story she heard in her course from a fellow community member.

“We had to read this one essay about sexual assault,” Berwick said in a Zoom interview. “It was really interesting to see how someone who lived in the same area as me had such a different life, and I found [that] changed the way I looked at political science, Sunnyvale and the Bay Area.”

Based on what Berwick learned in her political science course, she decided to start the Political Science Union club along with co-president, junior Macy Li to bring awareness to a variety of political-related topics.

“We decided to work together as a team in order to start a political science [club] to unite like-minded students and provide them with a space to explore the different facets of political science, learn new topics together and engage in discussions,” Li said in a Zoom interview.

After noticing a lack of an environment where students could voice their political opinions in a safe environment with others, Li said she thought of the idea to start a club. Similarly, Berwick said she hopes the club will be able to provide students with important connections to the political-science world. Berwick is also planning to extend resources and opportunities to students they would not have otherwise.

“There are a bunch of internships and opportunities for people to work with [those] who are in government, and we wanted to make sure those opportunities were really clearly laid out so it didn't feel like people were just reaching into oblivion,” Berwick said.

Another club goal of Berwick’s is to discuss political issues in courteous and respectful manners, she said. Berwick and Li would be good with having heated discussions, but they said they would regulate any hurtful language and keep conversations from going too far.

“We feel there's a difference between speaking passionately as opposed to insulting people who don't have the same views as us,” Li said. “We haven't had any people who have been really emotional or heated during the discussion, but if they did, I feel like we would be fine with it because it's just tone of voice.”

Though there is the possibility of having heated discussions during general meetings, Berwick has an optimistic outlook for the future of PSU and its impact on the culture at Homestead.

“The club doesn't exist for a resume,” Berwick said. “It exists for people to enjoy it and to learn and feel comfortable and just have a good time. Overall it's been a positive experience and I'm glad to have this.”

Lattes and Literature

HIT THE BOOKS: When Sahana Santhanam shared her book recommendations with friend Harshitha Vijayakumar, she pitched the club concept, which was met with approval.

When sophomore Sahana Santhanam heard from her friend about their school’s literary club, she saw the absence of such a space at HHS. After sharing her discoveries with fellow sophomore and book-lover Harshitha Vijayakumar, Lattes and Literature was born.

Since kindergarten, Santhanam has been an avid reader, and eventually this interest translated to writing.

“I learned a lot about different cultures and just different places or periods in time,” Santhanam said in a Zoom interview. “Being able to be the reader is like being behind the wheel and watching the world through the story, so I think I've learned a lot about different cultures and different places that I wouldn't have really gotten to get to know about or experience otherwise.”

Similar to Santhanam, Vijayakumar’s own interest in reading influenced her to embrace the idea and see the impact this club could have. Through the characters she reads about in books, the sophomore was able to gain valuable insights she would not have found through other activities.

“I've learned a lot about how other people might perceive you,” Vijayakumar said in a Zoom interview. “Stepping into a character is out of the ordinary [and I realized] I would react differently to the person in the book. If it was me reacting to [a character making a bad decision], I would have slapped the character in the face.”

While they hope to do live readings at some point, present poetry and drink coffee as per their name, Santhanam said she hopes to steer the club away from being strictly a traditional book club.

“It's more a club about literature,” Santhanam said. “Instead of having a book that we all discuss, it'd be a book recommendation and then people could [read or] write about the book and we could discuss it.”

Originally, Santhanam and Vijayakumar planned for the club to be mostly virtual to accommodate the distance-learning model. While they originally planned to have virtual meetings, they are thinking of meeting in the library every Monday at lunch, starting September 13. Just like other school clubs, the two went through the rigorous ASB approval process in order to become official.

“I would tell [anyone interested in starting a club] to consider everything and make sure you really want to do it,” Santhanam said. “I don't think I would have enjoyed doing a math club or something I'm not really interested in.”

Both Santhanam and Vijayajumar hope to bring those who have a passion for reading and writing together. Seeing as they did not have the same opportunity to join a club such as this one, they found it important to give other students a chance to explore literature in a non-traditional way.

“I think that ultimately the reading and writing community at Homestead will find us,” Santhanam said. “I know I definitely would have joined a reading and writing, centered club my freshman year.”


CLUB OFFICER TEAM: Activities Director Anika Ummukulsum said she was interested in applying after realizing the school did not already have a club specifically devoted to the subject

When sophomore Angela Milo initially took a chemistry course over the summer, she hoped it would help her journey into the medical field. However, she was not expecting to find a deep rooted love in chemistry itself. This passion she found inspired her to start a chemistry club along with junior Anika Ummukulsum and the rest of the officer team. From the officers’ experiences, chemistry is a far reaching subject with a variety of career paths available.

President Milo and Activities Director Ummukulsum said they have several activities planned for their meetings in the upcoming school year, such as labs and Kahoots to garner the enthusiasm of fellow students.

“I think having lab experiments and guest speaker events would make chemistry more of a fun subject, so people can get interested in it,” Milo said in a Zoom interview.

One of the ways Milo is trying to gain more members is by using the Chemistry Club Instagram. She also is trying to attract participants via other science-related clubs.

“We [are planning to] partner up with clubs and have experiments so we can also provide exposure to the existing people of those science clubs, to the chemistry experiments that will be [one of our core activities],” Ummukulsum said in a Zoom interview.

Currently, the team is still working on finding an advisor, one of the ASB requirements. In addition to becoming an approved club, they had to face other challenges by trying to adapt to distance-learning techniques.

“Unfortunately with COVID-19, it's pretty difficult to have activities,” Milo said. “But COVID-19 kind of showed [us we] can do those types of events remotely, even though it seemed like it would be something difficult to do.”

Ummukulsum continues studying chemistry to gain experience in order to pursue biomedical engineering as a career. Similarly, Milo said she hopes to become a pre-med student to continue her passion for the subject.

“If you have an interest and there isn't already a club for it,” Milo said. “100% there will be other students that have the same interest too and would be interested in joining your club, so just get started on it and start the club.”

Created By
Saira Ahmed