CDS Extracurriculars: Offer Something for Everyone

Extracurriculars at The Country Day School serve as staples to the maintenance of the school’s motto, “Education with Balance”, and as opportunities for enrichment and involvement in the school community. At CDS, students are given the chance to engage in a vast variety of teams and clubs, all of which provide a foundation for academic, athletic, or personal exploration. Running Monday to Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 PM, the activities are led by passionate school staff who dedicate copious amounts of time and effort into fostering an adoration for the area of involvement in the students that take part in the clubs. Three such individuals are Mr. Jugoon, Mr. Liggett, and Chef Marcello Marano, who supervise the Cricket Club, the Everything You Need To Know About Money Club, and the Cooking Club, respectively. Over the last several weeks, I had the opportunity to sit down with each of these three initiators and speak about the origin, goals, and activities of their clubs.

Mr. Jugoon, a Mathematics teacher in the Senior School, heads the CDS Cricket Club, a tight-knit organization of both Middle and Senior School students that meets weekly in the Dome. After a “false start” approximately three years ago, the club began officially in the winter of 2017. Mr. Jugoon says that the idea to begin a Cricket Club stemmed from a collective love of the sport between him and two students. “We shared a passion for cricket and would always trade stories about our childhood playing the game. We would talk about cricket news and games that were happening currently. We decided to get all of the students together who liked cricket and start a club,” he notes. Mr. Jugoon, a true cricket enthusiast, hopes to introduce the sport to as many CDS students as possible. When asked about which individuals, in particular, should join this club, he says, “Students who are interested in trying something new, students who are athletically inclined, and students who love playing as part of a team should definitely try it out.”

In cricket, batting is similar in concept to baseball but the mechanics involved in the sport are unique and fascinatingly intricate. “The bowler and the batsman both have a large variety of choices on how to play and what strategy to employ every time. The bowler can deliver fast curve balls or slow spinning ones – the variety and uncertainty makes the game challenging for the batsman,” Mr. Jugoon explains. “Cricket is a game of sublime skill and sophisticated strategy, but most of all, it is super fun.”

The Everything You Need To Know About Money Club, a newly established extracurricular, is led by CDS’ Head of School, Mr. Liggett. It is a club that serves as an opportunity to familiarize students with the “alphabet of the financial world”. The member group of the club changes every term – in Term 1, Grade 11s and 12s participated, in Term 2, Grade 9s and 10s, and in Term 3, Grade 7s and 8s will be able to join. Mr. Liggett views the club as a chance to communicate with the student body, something that is difficult to do regularly, with 770 students in the School. “One of the ways I thought I could connect would be to have a club,” he says. “I can’t teach a class because many days I’m called to attend to something unexpected. I would be called out of class too much, so it would be a disservice to the kids.”

As a teacher, Mr. Liggett taught Business and Accounting. He believes that everyone needs a certain level of financial knowledge, with regards to concepts like stocks, banking and insurance, and many young people aren’t very well-informed in matters like this. In order to engage the club members with the content in a meaningful and interesting way, Mr. Liggett makes use of online resources and simulations that allow the students to interact with the material in a real-world context. “Right now, we’re working on investing, so learning about stocks, mutual funds, bonds and GICs. This is one of the most interesting parts because we’re doing a competition,” he elaborates. “We’re pretending to have a stock portfolio – we do it online with a game and whoever makes the most money in a month wins a prize, whatever that prize is.”

Mr. Liggett notes that a lot of the club’s time is spent on Q&A about various financial topics that are of particular interest to the club participants. “I asked the students what they would be most interested in finding out about and it was almost everything – they wanted to know as much as possible,” he adds. Mr. Liggett will “absolutely” carry the club into the next school year, as long as there are students who join. He encourages all students, whether they are hoping to explore a career in finance or not, to take part in the club. “Most likely, everyone will one day buy their own house and car, have their own job, pay taxes, and have insurance,” he says. “I think everybody should join it.”

CDS Head Chef, Marcello Marano supervises the Cooking Club with help from other kitchen staff on Wednesdays after school. The club started right before the 2018 Winter Break and had been an idea in the works for several years.  “It was something that we’ve been wanting to do for some time,” Marano notes. “Actually, the idea originated when we first came on as the food service provider and saw it as an opportunity to further engage the students through a Cooking Club. It became reality after Ms. Edwards came forth and asked me if we were interested.”

The first few meetings were spent teaching students about soups and stocks in order to gain a basic understanding of flavour-building. Proper kitchen hygiene and etiquette were covered as well. “As you can imagine, the kitchen is a dangerous place, and we don’t want anyone horsing around or getting hurt,” he says. The hardworking staff that dedicates their time to this club aim to engage students and teach them safe, nutritious, and healthy cooking habits.

Chef Marcello emphasizes the importance of the ability to prepare nutritious meals, especially for students in Grades 11 and 12, as they will soon find themselves heading off to post-secondary pursuits. “It will allow them to be better prepared for life,” he comments. Currently, the club’s members consist solely of girls. Chef Marcello does not understand the reason behind this trend, but believes it might be because of the idea held by some boys, which is that “I don’t need to know how to cook if I don’t want to be a chef.” He would love to see more male students join the club. “I believe that the kitchen is a communal place and a place for everybody, whether you are a man, a woman or a child – everybody belongs in the kitchen because everybody eats. It’s important that everybody understands what they are fueling themselves with.”

As is evident in the examples drawn from these three extracurriculars, two of which are new additions to the roster of after-school offerings at the school, The Country Day School continues to uphold its defined values and principles of education. The School’s faculty reach beyond expectations as they tirelessly work at spreading and sharing their passions with the students. Continued progress and expansion of the extracurricular program is expected for the future, as new initiatives are brought forth and experimented with. The exceptionality of the activities and the rare opportunity for enrichment and discovery that they provide CDS students is something to be cherished.S