6 Academic Clubs Freshmen Should Consider Joining


Academic clubs at Niles West. Clockwise from the top left: Debate, Model United Nations, Science Olympiad, Mock Trial.

By Wyatt Zwik , Academics Editor

Joining a club can help students befriend more of their peers, develop different life skills, and further their high school experience. However, Niles West has over 80 different clubs and activities, so for freshmen picking a club to join can be pretty stressful.

But have no fear, a list is here compiled with the main academic and competitive clubs freshmen, and all students in general, should consider joining.


The Niles West debate team has been wildly successful in recent years, with two graduated seniors ranking 6th place nationally last school year. The team travels around the country to the current topic, immigration. Recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about government policy or learn to speak very, very fast.

“I would encourage anyone to join debate because it really opens up a lot of opportunities for you. You’ll meet some of your best friends, travel all around the country, earn scholarship money, and develop research and advocacy skills that you can use in school for many years to come,” captain and senior Dylan Chikko said.

Debate meets in room 2240 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school.


DECA is competitive club based on building skills in business, where students go to different conferences to model business pitches and strategies. The Niles West team has done really well in recent years, and has traveled to a national competition. Any freshman can join the club, but sophomores through seniors must be in a business class to join. Recommend for anyone interested in learning more about business or wants to be the next Warren Buffet.

“I think DECA really helped me with business in general, sch as better communication skills. You do role-plays of a typical business engagement, like if you’re talking to an employer or a customer. You learn terms that are used in the real business world,” senior Bradley Pawlow said.

DECA meets in room 1510 on Fridays before or after school.

Mock Trial 

In this club, students act out a court room scenario, with topics ranging from civil liberties to criminal prosecution. The team has traveled to a variety of conferences, visiting San Francisco last school year. Recommended for those interested in a career in law or if you’ve binge watched one too many episodes of Law and Order.

“Mock Trial teaches students courtroom etiquette, public speaking, and introduces them to the legal field. We perform in actual courtrooms and get feedback from practicing attorneys. Everyone on the team has to work really hard to prepare a cohesive case-in-chief to argue in court against other schools. This club provides members with internships, recognition in competitions, and the opportunity to travel,” team captain and senior Taral Talati said.

Mock Trial meets in room 3015 on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school.

Model United Nations 

Model United Nations simulates the namesake organization, with students traveling to various conferences and debating international issues such as the ongoing refugee crisis and climate change. Recommended for those looking to learn more about world politics, or those just looking for world domination.

“I recommend everyone consider joining Model UN because it really provides you with a unique opportunity in a variety of ways. Not only does it help your public speaking and critical thinking it develops you research skills alongside application of said research to the real world. Beyond that it teaches you practical skills like how to tie a tie and staying updated with current events. All that aside the chance to go out of state and explore new cities is an opportunity that is rather limited in other clubs. Mr. Koreman [the club sponsor] takes his time to make sure everyone produces quality work prior to a conference to make the conferences engaging, while also making the activity unique and fun,” director-general and senior Umar Ahmed said.

Model United Nations meets in room 3335 on Tuesdays after school.

Scholastic Bowl 

This trivia-based club uses a system of buzzers to answer questions varying from ancient history to sciences. Recommended for anyone who wants to learn about a broad range of topics and Jeopardy! fanatics.

“It’s really fun. You get to learn new things you’ve ever really heard or thought about before, and you get to be in sort of competitive mode where there’s buzzers. also there’s not that many people so you get to have actual playing time which you might not get with other clubs,” team captain and senior Hana Frisch said.

Scholastic Bowl meets in room 1210 on Mondays after school.

Science Olympiad 

In Science Olympiad, students compete in different events, with topics ranging from chemistry to earth sciences to even robotics and technology. Recommended if you enjoy any or all types of science.

“Science Olympiad is a great organization offering students the ability to learn and use scientific knowledge different than in the school environment. The opportunity to learn different sciences and demonstrate your capability is there. Our team works as a family. Put simply, if you wish to learn, make friends, and have fun, Science Olympiad is the place for you,” varsity member and senior Muhammad Afzal said.

Science Olympiad meets in room 3420 on Thursdays after school.

A final piece of advice to freshmen: join as many clubs as you can this year. Freshman year is the perfect time explore your options and find what you’re passionate about, whether it be debating politics or conducting science experiments. Try to find something you love doing now, so you don’t regret not partaking in that activity earlier in your high school career.