Clubs & Organizations
Commonwealth has a long tradition of student-run clubs and teams. They always enrich the atmosphere of social and community engagement at the school; occasionally they effect more substantial change in how the school operates. The organizations listed below are among the longer-lasting; students often organize new clubs to suit their interests.
- Diversity Committee
- Model Congress
- Model United Nations
- Environmental Club
- Commonwealth Cares
- Math Team
- Robotics Club
- Debate Team
- Science Team
- Lit Mag
- Chess Club
Diversity Committee brings together a group of students and teachers who meet to talk about identity, difference, and current events. Discussions and presentations at weekly meetings draw on students' own experiences, cultures, races, and backgrounds. Diversity Committee helps to create a community at Commonwealth that is open to dialogue on such issues as social justice, race, gender, and sexuality.
Members of the Diversity Committee attend the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the local AISNE Color Conference.
The committee also organizes and oversees school events, including Diversity Day, during which student-facilitated workshops and activities replace regular classes. Diversity Day often includes a lunch where students contribute dishes reflecting their varied cultures.
Advisor: Monica Schilder
The Model Congress club sends about 15 students to Harvard's Model Congress Conference each February. During meetings, student leaders teach about Parliamentary procedure and the art of writing laws as they prepare to impersonate a member of Congress, take part in Supreme Court simulations, or engage in an historical re-enactment. In 2015, seven students won awards or honorable mentions.
Advisor: Melissa Glenn Haber
Founded in 2003, Commonwealth’s Model UN Club has grown steadily and now includes almost forty students. Since 2009, Commonwealth's team has attended the MIT Model United Nations Conference (MITMUNC), held in early February. MITMUNC focuses on committees with a scientific or technological aspect, though the student participants are not expected to have any particular scientific expertise. Once country and committee assignments are received, Commonwealth delegates meet weekly at lunch to prepare themselves to represent their assigned countries. Over the years, Commonwealth students have won a variety of awards on their MITMUNC committees, including Best Delegate, Outstanding Delegate (second place on the committee), and Best Position Paper.
Advisor: Audrey Budding
Commonwealth Cares is a student-led group of a dozen students in all grades who work together to offer interesting and meaningful community service opportunities to their peers. The group is self-sufficient and organizes its own fundraising events to provide for its monthly dinners.
The aim is to provide a range of opportunities such that every student finds something he or she would like to participate in.
Kinds of Service
Direct service brings students to people and places where help is needed, such as:
- Preparing and serving a monthly dinner at the Pine Street Inn Women's House in Dorchester
- Knitting and Gardening (with a twist), a public service to beautify empty spaces.
Indirect service helps to raise funds through events such as:
- The Walk For Hunger, Project Bread’s fundraiser for over 450 emergency food programs that support families in crisis.
- A movie night fundraiser for the dinners at the Women’s House.
- Supermarket drives for Our Place, the Salvation Army’s daycare center for homeless children in Cambridge.
- Dance-A-Thon: a fundraiser for our dinners at the Women’s House.
- Bike-A-Thon for Bikes Not Bombs Youth and International Programs.
Advocacy supports and empowers people through activities such as:
- Translating letters in Spanish or French for Cultural Survival, an organization that partners with indigenous communities around the world to defend their lands, languages and cultures.
How to Participate
Check the community service bulletin board in the Commonwealth Lobby for upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, or check the Google Drive folder for sign-up forms (requires Commonwealth email account).
Math Team’s purpose is to build a community around enjoying math. By introducing students in a structured way to topics that are often not taught in math classes, it helps students discover and appreciate math as an art. Some students on Math Team participate in competitions, especially since many of the topics discussed at meetings also appear in math competitions.
At meetings a member of the team will usually talk on a topic, most often related to introductory combinatorics or number theory, although we also cover some algebraic and geometric concepts as well. The student teacher works through concepts and ideas and usually includes 10-20 problems relating to the topic for team members to practice.
Competitions we participate in:
- Massachusetts Math Olympiad, a 90 minute exam with 25 questions, administered at schools across the state
- New England Math League, a series of six tests over six months, with six questions per 30-minute session
- The American Mathematics Competition series, which starts with a 75-minute exam with 25 questions, potentially leading to a three-hour exam with 15 questions, potentially leading to a nine-hour exam with six questions, and beyond
- Purple Comet, a team contest in which six people do 30 problems in 90 minutes with math and programming
- The Harvard MIT Math Tournament, an international competition with several rounds
- Greater Boston Math League, five-person team contests that happen once a month for 5 months in which top-scoring teams then qualify for larger contests
Advisors: Al Letarte, Rob Sherry
The Robotics Team is an outlet for students to explore computer science, engineering, and applied physics through hands-on activities. Students of all levels and grades are welcome and participate in various ways.
There are two major areas of interest. The first is free-form robotics using standard microcontrollers and open-source programming. Students here explore and learn about various topics of interest including mechanics, electric circuits, and computer programming. The second area is for those who are interested in inter-school contests: we annually participate the VEX Robotics competition. The focus here is on a larger-scale robot that must perform pre-determined functions with a given set of components. In both cases, students work as a team to design and build their ideas from scratch.
Advisor: Christopher Barsi
Debate meets weekly to practice for conferences held by the Debate Association of New England Independent Schools, DANEIS, and hosted at schools in the Boston area; we attend four or five each year. Commonwealth's team participates in Parliamentary Extemporaneous debates, which are unrehearsed and done in teams of two. Most often, resolutions are in the form of a policy to be implemented by the US Congress. One two-person team defends the proposition, while a second team (representing the "opposition") attempts to refute the "government's" position. The debated propositions can range from the serious ("The US Federal government should cut off all funding for theoretical mathematics") to the goofy ("Iron Man is more powerful than Jesus") to the goofily historical ("Be it resolved that Athens kicked more butt than Sparta.")
The club has nearly twenty members, of whom as many as a dozen go to each conference. Each Thursday, we conduct one full-length practice debate, and our officers work with our debate coach to provide constructive feedback to help students improve their argument formation and public speaking.
Advisor: Alex Lew
Amnesty raises awareness of issues and causes relted to human rights and social justice. Members meet to discuss these issues and organize activities to advocate for them such as letter-writing, bake sales and other fundraisers, making posters to raise awareness of human rights issues, and contacting members of Congress to protest violations of human rights.
Advisor: Melissa Lydston
The Commonwealth Chronicle, our school newspaper, is produced entirely by student writers, editors, photographers, and artists. Articles range from school news and faculty profiles to social and cultural trends and politics. It appears several times a year.
PDFs of back issues:
Advisor: Melissa Glenn Haber
Commonwealth's annual yearbook is put together by a small but dedicated staff headed by an editor, a senior who, most often, was the previous year's assistant editor. Active fundraising is geared to making the yearbook as inexpensive for students as possible, $10 per copy or less.
Commonwealth's yearbook differs from larger schools' in several ways. Each senior has a full page, and creativity is encouraged. Since every student receives a yearbook, marketing is kept to a minimum, though advertising is welcomed. Finally, the book itself preserves the fun, offbeat feel of the School itself, rather than hewing to a predetermined format.
Advisor: Jennifer Novak