Fair offers learning and a sense of community

Fair offers learning and a sense of community beyond classroom walls
Posted on 10/11/2023
Best Buddies

Quakertown Community High School held its annual Panther Clubs and Sports Fair on September 28, providing students with the opportunity to network and learn about the school’s nearly 50 extracurricular activities. Student representatives and teachers were on hand to engage with high school students and provide information about the different activities ranging from sports and the arts to human interests, including the high school’s chapter of the Best Buddies Club, an international organization focused on connection.   


Members of the Best Buddies Club work in the community to build one-to-one relationships within the community including with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Working with their peers, often underclassmen, members form meaningful connections and foster self-confidence by sharing interests, experiences, and activities including field trips. 

Lauren Harwick, a senior and member of the Best Buddies Club, recognized the value of the face-to-face interaction that the fair provides. There, she was able to share her club’s greater mission. In addition to helping with special events like Trunk or Treats and holiday craft making, members of the Best Buddies Club attend field trips with Trumbauersville Life Skills students, offering one-on-one time, to enhance their experiences, and provide guidance and companionship.

“Being a ‘Best Buddy’ means offering friendship to everyone and lending a hand to someone that may feel otherwise isolated or excluded. I am so proud of Quakertown High School and our extracurricular offerings.  I believe working together we can change the dynamic of the high school community for the better, making us all more aware and understanding of all people who may need a friendly face,” said Harwick.  


Also focused on inclusion, the QCSD Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Chapter received several ally pledges from students seeking to support their fellow classmates. The GSA club aims to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for students, inclusive of all sexual orientations or gender identities.  "The club fair was a really great opportunity for the student body to show they are full of comradery and community. As a club, we want to create a safe space for LGBTQ students to talk about their feelings, questions, and any issues they may be facing so they know they are not alone in their journey. We had several pledges from fellow classmates to show their support which was inspiring to see,” said senior and GSA member Carnelian Hoag.


Carrie Okken, Club and Activities Coordinator for the high school, was floored by the large crowd of students who attended and their genuine interest in helping their peers get connected so all students have a sense of belonging within the school community.   “It is inspiring to see so many students sharing what they love with their peers and their genuine care for their fellow classmate's involvement and growth. We know that students who are connected with the school community tend to perform better academically. Thank you to advisors for providing these exciting opportunities for our students,” said Okken.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was created three years ago with the goal of helping students reconnect with each other. Through sports and club participation, students can gain a greater sense of involvement and make lifelong connections. 


“We want to do everything possible inside and outside of the classroom to help our students create positive relationships, enhance mental health and wellness, and create a strong sense of community and belonging. We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to network in person and research on their own accord, to find a place where they belong in the school community,” said Kim Finnerty, House Principal of Quakertown Community High School.

Dr. Michael Zackon, the district’s Director of Secondary Education, was impressed with the efforts of the faculty, staff, and building administration to put on the fair, who spent a significant amount of time outside of normal working hours to create a positive culture and climate for students.

“Our faculty and staff who support our sports and clubs go above and beyond their day-to-day duty. Their commitment and involvement show how much they deeply care about our student’s overall well-being, as they are clearly dedicated to serving our students in their academic and social growth. The fair is an example of Quakertown’s commitment to providing learning opportunities outside of a normal school day to benefit our students,” said Dr. Zackon.

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