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Thirteen-year-old Priscilla Botwright paints miniature figures during Club Day on Friday at Seoul American Middle School, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.

Thirteen-year-old Priscilla Botwright paints miniature figures during Club Day on Friday at Seoul American Middle School, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

Michelle Bremer teaches students face painting by practicing on her arm Friday at Seoul American Middle School.

Michelle Bremer teaches students face painting by practicing on her arm Friday at Seoul American Middle School. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

From left, Kimberly Phillips, 12, Susan Egbert, 11, and Jazzmen Bloodsworth, 12, work on their gardening skills on Friday at Seoul American Middle School.

From left, Kimberly Phillips, 12, Susan Egbert, 11, and Jazzmen Bloodsworth, 12, work on their gardening skills on Friday at Seoul American Middle School. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Students and staff at Seoul American Middle School spent part of Friday doing things they normally don’t get to do at school.

One group of students took Principal Darrell Mood and other staff to the hoop during three-on-three basketball. Another bunch whipped up and ate a batch of the famous Korean kimchi — a spicy dish of fermented vegetables seasoned with pepper and garlic. Yet another group sang favorite karaoke hits.

They were enjoying Club Day, a program introduced this year at the school.

Phil Koprowski, seminar committee chairman, said the program offers more than 40 different activities to the 600 students at the school.

The faculty voted last year to introduce the concept. According to a staff memo from Mood, the school “has a continuing quest to teach the whole child; that is, to address both the cognitive and affective domains.”

He wrote that the new program is an “appropriate mid-level educational practice” that supports “our curriculum while enhancing our extensive extracurricular program.”

Koprowski said the staff decided what clubs to create.

“What do you want to do … what are you good at?” was a key question, he said. But, more importantly, “you’ve got to get the kids involved.”

The health and physical education teacher said that wasn’t a problem — the students were excited about Club Day.

Student council members staffed tables during a registration day earlier this year. The students went in order, oldest to youngest, and were told to have more than one choice because the clubs had limited spots and the most popular would fill quickly.

The students will attend three Club Day sessions — about an hour each — in the school year’s first half. They’ll re-register in a new order — 7th-graders, 8th-graders and 6th-graders — before attending three more sessions in the second half of the year.

The youngest students get last pick but “they’ll be here next year and the year after that,” Koprowski said.

The clubs were as varied as the students and staff. They included skateboarding, balloon art and face painting, bicycling, a beauty club, visual journaling, cross-stitching, Scrabble, yoga, sign language, calligraphy, chess, volleyball, “Investing for Financial Freedom” and a percussion ensemble.

Koprowski said the clubs allow students who don’t necessarily know each other to meet “a new group of kids with similar interests.”

Taewoo Lee, an 11-year-old student council member, helped create the Club Day concept.

He joined Koprowski’s bicycle club but bad weather kept them indoors on Friday.

It’s not exactly studying “but you can still learn,” he said. Lee spent much of the session playing his guitar while fellow club members played board and card games and watched a video.

Natasha Brown, 13, a member of the basketball club, said the new program “is cool.”

During the next session, she said, she’s thinking about joining the karaoke club.

“It looked like fun,” she said.


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