By Isiah REYES
About 150 students show up every Tuesday afternoon for the Christian “Got Faith” club meetings held during the lunch period at Rosemont Middle School.
The club is one of the largest on campus. It is open to all students and many who attend are members of various churches. The club is intended to provide an open, non-denominational, welcoming environment.
“I think it’s important for kids to be able to come to a place where there are no put-downs, but instead shared values of love-thy-neighbor and that is the core value of the ‘Got Faith’ Christian Club,” said Carla Riehl, seventh and eighth grade drama teacher at Rosemont Middle School.
Riehl has been the sponsor teacher of the club for the past seven years though the club has existed on and off for at least 20 years. Students who attend are not necessarily church-goers or even Christian.
There are 12 students who run the whole club. They meet with Riehl on Mondays at lunch to plan the meetings and Riehl takes notes on what the students want to do. Being a drama teacher has allowed Riehl to use her skills in scripting plays, to type up the overall plan and help students on what they are going to say. She also takes notes on what activities the students want to do, such as whether the group should have an opening prayer, play a funny game, or show a funny video.
Club meetings take place in a very large room that has a stage, allowing the group to have the space to accommodate as many students as possible.
Generally, the meetings start with a club cheer, then a student will get on the mic and open with a prayer. This is followed by either a video or skit about bullying or a Bible message. The overall messages are promoting kindness and love. A brief discussion is typically held offering time for at least a few students to go up to the mic and tell stories about how their week has been.
The club meetings end with a wacky game, such as a pie-eating contest for candy prizes. Every meeting has cookies as part of it, representing the shared value of the group leaders in breaking bread together, although recently it was Oreos instead of bread.
Riehl said she has seen students change over the course of time that they have been in the club. One student in particular went from feeling like an outcast to having a sense of belonging because of the friends she made in the club. There have been many such cases like these and, without a doubt, there will be many more.
“In our society, where there is so much hatred and bullying and mean people, I think it’s a real refuge for the leaders to be able to share love and kindness and acceptance of others,” said Riehl. “It’s a real oasis for the students who attend to be able to feel like they can make a friend and belong no matter who they are.”