Extracurriculars Like Crafting, Robotics Also Feel COVID Pinch


The Golden Button/Instagram

Craft shops such as the Golden Button in Woodbury were able to keep up business during the summer with outdoor spaces like these, but their extracurricular offerings have diminished due to cold-weather COVID-19 precautions.

Noah Vincent, Reporter

WOODBURY — Almost every kid in years past has been involved in extracurricular activities in one form or another, from music and dance lessons to after-school sports such as football or basketball. Many middle and high school students turn to extracurricular activities to socialize, relax, and have a place to fit in.

But in the age of COVID, many students have found that their favorite extracurricular activities have been altered greatly or called off completely. Aside from many school sports being cancelled due to the coronavirus, small businesses that rely on students’ extracurricular activities to stay running have had to find ways to operate these activities while still staying safe. 

Some businesses, like the Golden Button arts and crafts studio, held outside lessons during the warmer months. 

We were very lucky to have classes outdoors for summer and well into the fall,” owner Kate Gordham said. “Unfortunately since the indoor studio is small, we can only have a very limited number of people inside.”

However, now that it’s colder, business owners have to find new and creative ways to keep students socially distanced and safe.

“At this point all classes have gone virtual with the exception of teen classes and a few adult classes,” Gordham said. “We still have windows open during classes, seating spaced at least six feet apart, and we are following the cleaning procedures from the CDC.”

Because of the limited space, the Golden Button has had to limit enrollment of in-person classes to teens who have been participating in classes for a while, offering classes to those kids before offering them publicly.

In addition, Gordham has also been offering virtual classes to students. She has found that classes such as guided painting classes and parties work well virtually, but because of all the supplies needed for classes like sewing, they don’t allow the same creativity that being in the studio encourages.

The Golden Button attracts students from many different towns, and because of the limited studio space, out of abundance of caution, Gordham says she will continue to limit in-studio classes and offer mostly virtual classes. 

For more information about the Golden Button, visit its website or follow its Instagram at @thegoldenbutton

Arts and crafts are not the only extracurricular activities that have been affected by COVID-19. First Robotics, a nationwide program, has been greatly impacted in the last year according to James Vincent, senior at Nonnewaug. Vincent is a member of the Powersurge Robotics team, sponsored by 4-H.

Last year, the team’s robot was completed for their first competition, but it was cancelled due to the initial COVID-19 outbreak. 

“It has been very difficult because we have only been able to meet online and haven’t been able to go into our shop and work on our robot,” says Vincent, who added that “hopefully, if all goes well at the high school, we will be able to start at 25 percent capacity.” 

First Robotics designed this year’s competition for teams to be able to use the robots they created last year with some modifications, but so far the members of Powersurge Robotics have only been able to strategize virtually. They have not been able to utilize their workshop at all. As of right now, this year’s competitions are still on schedule.

First Robotics is an important program to many high school seniors who have been participating in the program since freshman year. Many big-name technical colleges offer up to $20,000 per year in scholarship money to qualifying students. Vincent indicated that to his knowledge, these scholarships have not been negatively impacted by COVID-19.