Starting a PK / FR club in high school

By: Alissa Bratz

APK member Muse_of_Fire is a high school teacher (French, no less!) and budding traceuse. what she adds to APK in the forums is invaluable, and she's pushed it even further by writing a few articles! Her insight as a teacher makes her very qualified on the subject take her advice to heart if you'd like to start a club at your school. Thanks Muse!

Because parkour is still very new, many public schools are apprehensive about letting younger traceurs start school parkour clubs, particularly when many peoples’ first exposure to parkour is a heart-stopping David Belle video. “The grownups” panic at the thought of “the kids” jumping off the roof of the school building, with the school’s blessing, so many schools say no to parkour clubs right off the bat. Following are some tips to help you effectively gain support for your club. Be aware that every high school is different, but these guidelines should get you off on the right foot.

  1.  Do your homework: Know what your school’s extracurricular policies are. Every school is different, but talk to a teacher or administrator (your principal or activities/athletic director is a good choice) to find out the following:a.         What the process is for starting a new club,b.         What the rules are for what kinds of clubs are allowed,c.          What the requirements are in terms of supervision 

2. Talk to a teacher to get his/her support. Every club needs an advisor. Let this teacher help you navigate the process.  

3. Design your club according to the information you found out in #1, above. How often will you meet? Do your club’s goals and activities fit with the school’s guidelines for clubs? Don’t just think it up, write it out. Make changes as necessary to ensure that it fits within the school’s guidelines. Be aware that you may need to present or hand in this piece of writing. So use what you’ve learned in English class. Type it. Spell properly, punctuate, and capitalize. 

4. Do some more homework: Be prepared to submit evidence as rational, mature responses to any anticipated concerns your administration may have. Remember that it’s the administration’s job to take care of students’ safety and well-being during the school day and during all school activities. So if they are balking at your proposal, chances are it is out of a sense of responsibility for your safety. This is their job, and they do it because they care about you. Please do not approach it in terms of “The Man trying to keep you down,” because (a) that’s not what’s happening, and (b) that will only hurt your case. Some concerns an administration is likely to have (and possible counters) are: 

a. Student safety. Be prepared to prove that you have a structured training program in place, to show them that you are just as serious about safety as they are.

b. Supervision. Talk to a few teachers in advance and ask if they are willing to be the club advisor. Work with these teachers to help you build your case.

c. Liability. Look to other, similar clubs that are sanctioned by the school (e.g. a martial arts club or an intramural sport) and find out how the school handles liability in those cases. Be prepared to tailor your club’s activities to fit with this.

d. Value of the club. There is a ton of research out there about how kids are getting fat and sedentary. Design and present your club as a means of countering this trend. Frame it as you caring about the childhood obesity issue, and wanting to be a responsible young adult doing something about it. It will go a long way. 

5. Be prepared to follow your administration’s lead step-by-step. It may take a long time. Don’t get discouraged, just follow the steps. You may need to make presentations to a panel of teachers or to the school board (depending on the rules where you live). Dress nicely and comb your hair. Speak like a young adult. Present your case like a mature, responsible person. How you present your case is just as important as what you say. The bottom line is, every school has a procedure in place for students wanting to start up clubs. Talk to some teachers and your administration to find out what this is, and follow the steps. Your school staff will help you. Just remember to follow the steps on their terms. If they present obstacles, it’s not them “trying to keep you down,” it’s them trying to ensure that the rules (which are there for your well-being, their primary responsibility) are being followed and that this club is a good thing. Since parkour is less well-known than, say, chess, it’s natural that they will have more questions and skepticism about a parkour club vs. a chess club. So don’t let their questions and the length of the process discourage you or make you think they’re getting in your way. Like any obstacle, it’s a matter of overcoming it, and continuing on. Approach it with maturity and confidence, and you’ll have a parkour club in no time.

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Written by Muse_of_Fire   
Monday, 04 June 2007 00:04
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 21:59