Clubs compete throughout school year


Jennifer Lowe

Ding! Isaac Brumbaugh, Alex Thaler, Aiden Phillips and Talon McKendree are competing at the District Championships. On Dec. 13, these were the top four team members competing.

Zakary Hicks, Reporter

Students join many competitive clubs. Members of these organizations use their talents and knowledge to compete against other like-minded individuals from other schools. 

Interscholastic Reading Team

Interscholastic Reading Team is comprised of students who read a directed list of books each semester and then are quizzed as a group on them at competitions twice a year.  The club adviser for the last seven years is Michele Janosik. As the adviser, she completes and submits paperwork, registers teams and organizes books

The team competes at a fall and spring competition.

“Reading is a critical life skill. If students read more often they are able to comprehend at a faster rate which will certainly help them in college. However, even for students not enrolling in college, effective comprehension is necessary for everyday living.  The students have fun at the competitions, and of course, ‘the more you read, the more you know’,” Janosik said. 

They placed third in the fall competition.  The next competition is on April 14.  

Scholastic Scrimmage Team

Scholastic Scrimmage Team is a club and competition team of students who like trivia.  At competitions, they are asked questions about school subjects and general knowledge. The club advisor for the last 10 years has been Jennifer Lowe.  As the adviser, she supervises weekly practices and organized field trips for their competitions. 

The club meets every week to have fun as well as to improve their trivia knowledge and skill. 

“It is a perfect extracurricular for students who enjoy trivia and an opportunity to see the knowledge they’ve acquired be appreciated and even rewarded,” Lowe said. 

The club is open to anyone, and the top six to eight performers then qualify for the competition team.  This year’s team was comprised of Captain Aiden Phillips, President Talon McKendree, Alex Thaler, Sonia Yost, Isaac Brumbaugh, Josh Mentzer and Rich Wei.

“We compete in a state-wide Scholastic Quiz League, organized by the PA Intermediate Units, that has a fall season of district-level competition.  The champion from each district can then advance to a regional playoff, and the regional champion advances to a state championship in May. For districts we compete at a location within the county against other schools from Blair and Bedford counties, so we typically have 14 rounds of competition going head-to-head against other schools’ teams. In the last two seasons our record qualified us for the district championship, and we finished in second place.  We haven’t been to states in a few years and hope to return next year,” Lowe said.  

During practices, they use a variety of questions that cover eclectic subjects and use a lock-out buzzer system to “ring in” on questions. This builds the skill and confidence needed to answer quickly using the buzzer system.  

“Students should join to have fun spending time with like-minded peers and challenging themselves to apply the academic and general knowledge they have acquired.  This club is an important extracurricular because it values intelligence and the hard work of students who believe learning and knowledge is a worthwhile endeavor,”  Lowe said.  


Earthkeepers is the high school’s environmental group.  Students in this club try to increase environmental awareness within the community.  The club’s advisors are Denise Condo and Michael Steininger. As advisors, they make informative slides and set up everything. 

During meetings, students watch videos and slideshows on different topics that focus on the earth and its population of plants and animals.  

“In the club, we learn about problems on earth involving the planet and we think about possible solutions,” sophomore Grace Strayer said.

Students can learn from this club, and help the world around them as the club’s activities depend on the members’ ideas.  

“Students should join because it’s a club that helps you and the earth.  People need to focus on the world around them and this club shows it to you.  Also, it has given me a great deal of knowledge about plants and animals, so if you’re interested in that, it’s a great reason to join,” Strayer said.

Students also raise money to donate to environmental funds and causes.  

“We go to a school with a bunch of diagrams and set-ups and then as a group we answer questions provided, and then the judges grade your answers.  The school with the most points wins,” Strayer said. 

Speech League

Speech League offers opportunities to learn speaking and acting skills.  The students compete in meets throughout the school year against different schools in surrounding counties.  The advisers are Michael Steininger and Amanda Woodring. As advisers, they practice with the students and help them find pieces to perform. 

For their competitions, they have three preliminary meets, and then districts, then regionals and states.

“The purpose individually for students is to work on their speaking skills and to feel more comfortable to actually talk in front of an audience because most people are afraid of public speaking.  From a school standpoint, we compete against other high schools. There are 22 schools in our region that we compete in,” Steininger said.  

Members can choose to compete in poetry, prose, informative, commentary, declamation, drama or persuasive.  

“The importance of this club is the fact that it helps you with speaking in front of large crowds of people without the added anxiety that comes along with it,” sophomore Kaylee Smith said.  

With public speaking being a common feared thing, this club can help with that and benefit students in their daily life.  

“Students should join this club because it forces them into a situation that is outside their comfort zone for most of them.  In society, whether you’re working at Sheetz and dealing with a customer with how you react and speak to them, or if you are the CEO of a huge company, it is all about the speaking skills that you present, your ideas and your thoughts,”  Steininger said.  

Junior Academy of Science 

Junior Academy of Science promotes students’ interest in the sciences and helps broaden their opportunities for their future.  They compete in regional competitions with the opportunity of moving onto state competitions. The club adviser for the last 15 years is David Borst.  As the advisor, he keeps everybody on track with getting all of the steps done and making sure they have things ready to go for the competitions.  

The root goal of this club is to let kids know the options for their future. 

“The main function is to compete in the regional competition that is in March. Students prepare their own science experiment. It can be any branch of science,  even social sciences as some people do behavior studies but it can be chemistry, physics, anything. They do a 10-minute presentation, and if they do well enough then they go onto the state meet up in State College.  We also go on trips to universities, we are going to a big science and engineering expo in D.C., and sometimes we go to elementary schools and work with little kids. We do anything related to science and learning about science,” Borst said.  

This club encourages students who enjoy science to take it to the next step.  It provides them with opportunities for scholarships and college recognition. 

“Most kids in Altoona don’t know scientists and engineers and don’t realize the opportunities.  For competitions, they find their own experiment, do their own steps and do it themselves. It also looks really good on a resume and shows you went beyond doing your classwork,”  Borst said. 

Mock Trial Team

The Mock Trial Team competes in pretend court cases.  They compete in district competitions with the opportunity to move on to the state level.

Students prepare their side of a mock court case to compete against other schools in a trial. 

“Mock Trial allows students to take part in preparing for a realistic court case. This club is great for aspiring attorneys or those interested in theatre and the arts, as well as anyone interested in learning about court and trials,” sophomore Gloria Huss said.  

During meetings, students work on perfecting their roles as witnesses, their questions, opening arguments and closing arguments as attorneys.

“Even if students aren’t planning on going into law, Mock Trial allows students to learn the court set up and the way a real trial works. It also helps build confidence and public speaking abilities, which are both very important skills,” Huss said.  

Future Business Leaders of America

FBLA is a competitive, business-related club with each student as a member competing in a certain category.  There are 60 to 70 categories that they get to pick from. The club advisers are Christopher King and Jesse Frailey.  As advisers, they organize and set up everything, do the behind the scenes work and ideally help them get prepared and ready for competition.

For the regional competition that is once a year in the fall, students can either do online tests where they pick a lab and they take a 100 question test online, or they can participate in competitive style events. 

“Students should join this club because it teaches you a lot about how the world works and the business drive is everything.  You really get awoken at an early age so that way you can drive your decisions now and make better choices now at a high school level to help you be successful in your career.  It is a real eye-opener,” King said.  

At regionals, the top three kids in each category move onto states which are held at Hershey.  The top four from there move on to nationals.

“It gets them ready for the real world.  When we go out to Hershey, there will be a lot of workshops with Facebook people coming in, Google people coming in and all of these big companies will come and present and talk about how to own your personal brand, how to build a resume and just always making yourself better with how to market yourself and make yourself a better, more competitive person because of how competitive the world is,” King said. 

FBLA is the largest student club in the country.