Students expand ways to serve area

Members of the Buffalo Anglers, a fishing club at VHS, work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to learn about conservation efforts and participate in park cleanups.

Villages High School students represent the guiding principles of the school at every level. Student clubs at VHS are not just extracurricular activities, they involve charity and community service. Christina Murphy, activities coordinator and administrative assistant for VHS, said student club options have expanded this year to 28, seven of which are new. New clubs include Women’s Studies, Speech and Debate, Students for a Better Society and more. “We wanted to give students new and diverse options to connect with each other during and after school,” Murphy said. Support VHS clubs’ service projects at the Closet Clutter fundraiser from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 16 in VHS’ western parking lot. Here are four ways VHS Clubs are involved in the community:

Writing Letters to Veterans

Students with Beyond the Book Club are writing letters to add to care packages for veterans and will partner with Beyond the Walls Food Pantry in Fruitland Park in February for a shoe donation drive, said VHS Media Specialist Susan Whittaker, who sponsors the group. “Our book club ... is small compared to other clubs, but they are a group with a focus of making a difference in their community,” Whittaker said.

Raising Money for St. Jude

Seniors Tyler Ortengren and Riley Willis formed the Gaming & Esports Club. The group plans to stream themselves playing competitive video games for charity, namely  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Those who watch the stream can donate to charity while watching the students play, and they are currently planning video game tournaments and charity streams for its inaugural year.

Starting Community Art Projects

Club sponsor Elizabeth Heathman and the Art Club hope to earn money at the upcoming Closet Clutter. “We are currently prepping for the Closet Clutter Sale to earn money for supplies to complete projects,” Heathman said. The art club looks forward to starting a new community art project, which it could not do last year. Heathman said a silent auction run by the students is also in the works to raise money for supplies.

Helping Conservation Efforts

Buffalo Anglers, sponsored by Jose Rodriguez, is a fishing club at VHS. It works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission so students can learn about conservation efforts and sustainable fishing practices for the environment. But it’s not all casting and hooks, students earn community service hours through cleanup projects during the semester.

Staff Writer Garrett Shiflet can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5367, or