Sophomore Caucus Hosts Picnic Alongside Key Club and Big Sibs

The Sophomore Caucus hosted a picnic alongside the Stuyvesant Key Club and Big Sibs.

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By Cayla Chew

With the excitement of the back-to-school season, the Sophomore Caucus kicked off the 2023-2024 school year with a picnic open to students from all grade levels. The picnic was held at Rockefeller Park on September 22 and hosted by the caucus alongside the Stuyvesant Key Club and Big Sibs.

In planning the picnic, Sophomore Caucus Co-Presidents Cayla Chew and Vanna Lei wanted to bring the different grades together in a stress-free social environment. “We wanted to do something with the freshmen, and we thought that a picnic would be a good idea because it's relaxing and it’s a good opportunity for freshmen to meet with upperclassmen,” Lei said. 

The Sophomore Caucus took the initiative with the planning of the event by reaching out to the Big Sib Chairs and Key Club, hoping to encourage a stronger bond between underclassmen and upperclassmen. “We wanted an event to connect with freshmen and even upperclassmen, which kind of leads us back into why we invited Big Sibs and Key Club, just so [that] everyone could get advice and feel more connected,” Chew said. 

Senior and Big Sib Chair Eugene Park revealed how the picnic provided a unique opportunity for Big Sibs to bond with sophomores, who typically lose contact with their Big Sibs following the completion of their freshman year. “We never really thought of a Big Sib and sophomore collaboration because that has never happened, […] and we always thought that [sophomores] still deserved some guidance,” Park said. “While we were thinking that, Vanna and Cayla reached out to us, and they proposed [...] sending 20 to 30 Big Sibs to attend the event, and we thought it was a perfect chance [to provide guidance].”

Senior and Stuyvesant Key Club president Adeeb Khan described how the picnic was an excellent way for members of the organization to introduce themselves to new students. “We thought it was an amazing opportunity, especially since it’s the start of the year [and] any club, not just Key Club, is looking for ways to recruit new members, especially among [the] freshmen and sophomore class[es],” Khan said. 

Furthermore, the Stuyvesant Key Club took advantage of the picnic as a way to raise money in support of the community. “We held our Pencil Case Decorating Fundraiser. This is an activity where we would have anybody come over and pay us $6 and we’d provide [them] all sorts of arts and crafts supplies to decorate [their] own pencil case with all proceeds going to donate to the NYC Food Pantry,” Khan said.

Despite the JV and varsity football games that were scheduled on the same day, the picnic had a large turnout. Members of the Sophomore Caucus felt extremely proud of the high attendance and engagement among the student body. “At the actual event, what went really well was the amount of people that actually ended up coming […] and the fact that people enjoyed it was the greatest part,” Chew said. 

Likewise, the Big Sib Chairs were also pleased with the number of Big Sibs who attended the picnic. “The Big Sib attendance was 100 percent. Everyone was there when we checked in, and everyone was there when we checked out. This was something [the Big Sibs Chairs] didn’t expect because Big Sibs are seniors and juniors, who are arguably so busy, but they were there until 5:00 p.m. and I was really impressed,” Park said. 

Thanks to the high student turnout, Key Club was able to raise a large sum of money through their Pencil Case Decorating Fundraiser. “We [had] some sophomores come over and they enjoyed themselves at our fundraiser. Even though we didn’t get as many people as we expected, Key Club raised $166 [toward] the NYC Food Pantry,” Khan said.

Freshman Penelope Merchant commented on how the picnic was a positive experience for her, as she was able to socialize with new people from multiple grade levels. “I thought it was really fun. There were a lot of people there, which means you can meet a lot of different people, which was good,” Merchant said. “The Big Sibs were very nice and they were very approachable.” 

Unfortunately, an issue concerning food delivery arose before the event, hindering the delivery of snacks for the picnic. “We ordered some chips and juice but there was a problem with the shipment as it got damaged when it was coming here, so it wouldn’t be able to arrive on time,” Lei said.

Though members of the caucus resolved this conflict by purchasing food from nearby stores, the food supply was still insufficient given the large number of attendees. “We only had pizza, chips, and some sweets, and that’s about it. Since there were a lot more people that came than what was expected, food ran out early,” Sophomore Caucus Outreach Director Zihe Huang said. 

In order to combat potential food shortages, Huang proposes using an RSVP system for future events in which students sign up in advance for events they are interested in attending. “Maybe in the future, we could have an RSVP [form] so we can gauge the size of the events and how [many] people would be interested,” Huang said.

In spite of its minor drawbacks, the picnic was able to unify the student body through a unique bonding experience that attendees and organizers alike were able to enjoy. “All the sophomores and freshmen were having pizza together and talking with the Big Sibs. Big Sibs were actually engaged with the sophomores and they were just having a nice time, eating some snacks. I really liked that energy,” Park said.