Quirky Communities

The Falconer takes a look at niche student clubs on campus.

Skincare Club

Best friends to co-founders, Soraya Siry (11) and Kayla Yoo (11) have revolutionized what a club can be at TPHS, bringing an activity not usually associated with a classroom to campus.

The Skincare Club, which meets bi-weekly, works to create an open community centered around the ideals of self-care; the duo believes that self-care is a way to treat and appreciate yourself, acting as a much-needed pause on the constant rush of life.

Siry and Yoo have always had an interest in the vast world of skincare, and they thought starting a club would connect them with fellow skincare fanatics.

Member Faith Bailey (11) explained how she heard about the club and immediately became interested.

“To me, it means that I can learn about different types of skin care, therefore benefiting my own skin and hopefully being able to advise others on skincare,” Bailey said. “I also think that hearing others’ skincare journeys helps to improve my personal thoughts about skincare and [my knowledge] of what I should and shouldn’t do.”

Siry and Yoo plan to host meetings in Room 17 every other Thursday at lunch, inviting students to interrupt their school days with some essential self-care.

When she was first approached for the club, club adviser and physics teacher Brianna Howard was more than willing to provide her classroom as a space for Yoo and Siry to carry out their club.

“I love skincare, so I feel like I’m going to learn stuff from them,” Howard said. “I think it’s really cool to give students the opportunity to talk about the chemicals that are good and bad for their skin, so I’m really excited for them.”

Siry first became interested in skincare during the COVID years, severely struggling with her skin throughout that stressful time. Constant trial and error, a repeating back and forth, had Siry struggling to find the results she wanted in products. However, Yoo said her journey started differently. She never really struggled with her skin until reaching high school.

After having accumulated a vast amount of knowledge, perfectly crafted after years of experimenting and researching, Siry wanted to share her mastery. Yoo also researched and worked to figure out what worked best for her complexion and skin type. They hope to motivate others through their club, to participate in self-care, as well as generally take better care of themselves.

“Our overall mission is to bond and build a community with others over our love for skincare while also being informative. We hope to build an open platform where it motivates others to take care of their skin,” Siry said.

Together they are hoping to raise money through a fundraiser for charities that donate to those who struggle with skin issues, among other similar projects.

As club leaders with personal aspirations in the field of dermatology, Siry and Yoo aim to spread empowerment through helping students look and feel their best, as someone’s skin can be the key to their confidence.

Dirtbox Club

Growing up in Fallbrook, California, the avocado capital of the world, connecting with nature was always an essential part of TPHS Dirtbox Club President Daphne Do’s (12) life.

“[Growing up,] my mom had her grove with avocados and dragon fruit, and I remember helping her maintain it,” Do said. “I spent a lot of my free time in nature.”

Do, like her mother, also maintains her own gardens at home. The TPHS Dirtbox Club is a sort of homage to Do’s roots in Fallbrook.

“I think it’s just really important for me to bring that feeling to the community at TPHS, like bringing a little piece of my hometown here,” Do said.

The Dirtbox Club — which meets every Monday — works toward their goal of creating a garden at TPHS and sharing their passion for plants by organizing nature-based activities, such as crafting flower crowns.

“I love this new club. It has so many new members and such great energy … It’s been really fun to have them in my classroom,” MaryAnn Rall, club advisor of the Dirtbox Club, said.

With many of the other club’s officers also having previous experience in gardening, they hope to divulge their knowledge to TPHS students new to the hobby.

“[We also want] to teach the value of naturally grown food,” Chloe Sagan (12), treasurer of the TPHS Dirtbox Club, said. “As kids, [my family] would always grow food at home and then use that to cook.”

While their first meeting was less than a month ago, on Oct. 2, the Dirtbox Club has already contacted the district regarding the development of a garden at TPHS; once funding is approved, they will start building the garden.

The Dirtbox Club envisions the garden to be a student-involved project, where participants will be able to learn not only gardening skills but also knowledge about the plants’ health and needs.

“We want to make it a school-wide collaborative project for students to maintain over the years,” Do said.

Another vital purpose of this club is spreading mindfulness towards nature on campus.

“[We aim] to foster respect for the school environment because kids here really don’t care … We will be eating lunch together and notice people just littering,” Christine Chinnappan (12), vice president of the Dirtbox Club, said. “So through a club, we can make people more aware of what they’re doing because sometimes they’re just doing it without even knowing.”

With around 24 members, the club has proven to be a place of comfort on campus.

“It’s been wonderful. It really feels like a tiny community within Torrey Pines,” Dirtbox Club member Kyra Dominguez (12) said. “You feel really welcome here.”

The Dirtbox Club has exciting events planned this school year, including frequenting farmers’ markets, where they aim not only to promote the club but to share recipes using crops from their garden. In the upcoming Falcon Festival on Nov. 4, the Dirtbox Club will be setting up games, flower crown crafts and a raffle.

With an exciting year ahead for the club, Do and the officers’ gardening journey is set to flourish at TPHS.

Creative Writers Association

One club at TPHS offers a unique escape from reality. Although an outsider may perceive only the tapping of keys on a keyboard, the members of the Creative Writers Association are able to connect with each other, decompress and let their imaginations run wild, all through creative writing.

The club, which meets Tuesdays at lunch in Room 205, was founded by Kristina Wang (11) in order to create a welcoming environment for passionate writers.

“There are a lot of people who share the same hobby as me, so I wanted to share this opportunity to help others improve their writing skills and to share this passion and this joy of writing,” Wang said.

Creative writing in particular is loved by Wang due to the freedoms it offers.

“It’s a great way to express your creativity because of course it’s words, so you can write whatever your heart desires … and there’s no boundaries,” Wang said.

Many of her club members share the same viewpoint.

“There’s no restrictions … anything in your mind can be [what] you write,” Abraham Lazaro (11) said. “It’s a whole other reality you can make and you just have total control.”

Members of the club will vote on prompts to write about during the meeting, and every two weeks the club officers will read the submitted entries and decide which is the most creative or well-written. The selected story will then be posted on the club website as a “student spotlight.” This not only highlights student talent but allows students to learn from each other, according to Wang.

Lazaro and Aria Cheatom (12) were the first to earn this opportunity for their last story, which they wrote together.

“We were really surprised since we weren’t really expecting to get the spotlight; maybe to get noticed, but [not to win], so I was very excited,” Cheatom said.

Eager to keep innovating, both writers were excited about their upcoming prompt.

“The prompt was a horror story about the protagonist being able to hear a ghost,” Cheatom said. “I think that’s something new and interesting to write about.”

Wang aims to attract more members in order to spread her love of writing.

“I would definitely encourage everyone that is at least a little bit interested in writing to come because we have incredibly fun activities planned, and it’s a great opportunity to meet people who share the same hobbies,” Wang said.

Wang’s activities and prompts allow members to dissolve into the world of their fantasies and let loose.

“I think [creative writing is] a wonderful outlet for students to release their creativity, but also it’s a great place to decompress,” club adviser and AP Seminar and AP Literature teacher Lisa Callender said. “A lot of therapies use journaling — creative writing can just be like the fictional part of that and it can be a great place for students to experiment.”

Whenever an escape from reality is necessary, a step into Room 205 will not only bring one into a world of tapping keys, but one of freedom and imagination, where dreams really can come true.

Rhythm Games Club

As the TPHS campus falls silent with students heading home for the day, a new kind of sound comes to life in Room 410. Energetic pulsing and crisp tapping fills the air as fingers fly across screens in a frenzied dance.

This is Rhythm Game Club, where members meet every other Wednesday to exchange textbooks for tablets and enter a beat-driven world.

“I have had the thought of creating this club since I was in middle school,” Co-president Esther Luo (10) said.

Often characterized by strong beats and vibrant visuals, rhythm games require players to synchronize their actions with music and visual cues, tapping the screen to a song’s rhythm. According to Club Secretary Flora Liu (9), rhythm games came from and are most popular in Japan. Some of the club’s frequently played games include Phigros, Muse Dash and Arcaea.

Given the niche appeal of rhythm games, Luo’s goal is to connect with fellow enthusiasts while introducing these games to a wider audience, a sentiment shared by Flora. “All of us like to play rhythm games,” Flora said. “We would like to find people who have the same interests as us.”

Flora explained how her involvement in the club influenced her appreciation for music by introducing her to different genres.

“There’s so many types of music in different rhythm games,” Flora said. “When I started playing rhythm games, I became interested in EDM and vocaloid music.”

Club member Jiankun Yu (10), who began playing rhythm games in middle school, attends meetings to partake in the hobby with friends.

“[Rhythm games] give me something to do and make me feel relaxed,” Yu said.

Yu believes that the most important thing in improving skills is to “just keep practicing.” He described how rhythm games have improved his reaction speed, perseverance and patience.

Co-president Jasmine Liu (11) — no relation to Flora Liu — explained that new players interested in joining the club can start off “playing easier versions of the game” before working their way up, just as she and other members did.

“Everyone can try,” Jasmine said. “It looks hard because we are playing a harder version, but it’s very interesting and easy to learn.”

Beginners are provided with devices to play on and are introduced to game mechanics by more experienced members.

One of the club’s biggest challenges so far has been the lack of regular members, which Luo attributed to the specialized nature of rhythm games.

“I think there’s only a few people who like playing rhythm games,” she said. “We tried to put our videos on social media to let more people know about these games.”

Despite how the smaller club population may look to outsiders, the club does not view their group size negatively.

“It’s very common with these groups to start small,” TPHS English teacher Anusith Sounnadath, the club adviser, said. “At the end of the day, [rhythm games] are something that people enjoy, and they enjoy them for a reason.”

At TPHS, Rhythm Game Club serves as a reminder of how bonds form from shared niche passions. It is the shared love for rhythm games, and accompanying friendships made, that define the unique beat of this budding club.

Photos by Anna Opalsky/Falconer and Caroline Hunt/Falconer

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