One of the newest clubs to debut this year at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) is one which actually took root a year prior.
“I decided to start a Dungeons and Dragons club when over the summer , my dad taught our family how to play,” says Kieran Cline, a Grade 8 student, who just completed his first year at SMCS. “Then when I got to St. Mike’s, I decided I wanted to share the experience with my friends, so I started the club.”
So, after ensuring the new club met the requisite criteria, consulting with the clubs and activities coordinator, and pinpointing a moderator, Cline was set. The DnD club took flight in the spring.
“Students take control of a fantasy character to explore the world,” says Alexander Zappone, moderator of the club and Core Intermediate teacher. “Using your imagination, and with a little help from a set of dice and your Dungeon Master, you will turn a session into a fun adventure.”
Dungeons and Dragons, also known as D&D or DnD first came into being in 1974. Almost five decades later, it remains a popular game rich in storytelling.
“They create their own stimuli through imagination and role-playing and creativity,” continues Zappone, who admits knowing very little about the game prior to being approached to moderate the club. “They create their own worlds, and they build it themselves, so they feel a part of it. And I think just that aspect of using imagination and having to refer to guides and readings really gives students a chance to explore. They become active participants rather than passively sitting there absorbing tons and tons of stimuli without any work.”
What started with a handful of students, has grown to more than 20 in a few short weeks, mostly from Grades 7 and 11.
“The meetings are structured so the different campaign groups split off into breakout rooms with their dungeon masters and then the group plays D&D together,” explains Cline. “The goal of each meeting is for everyone to have a fun time playing and to improve their role-playing skills.”
For Zappone, who teaches English, there are additional benefits.
“One thing I think all teachers are struggling with, especially this year is to get students to participate, especially online,” he says. “There are certain students you might not hear from for like a month. One thing that's just incredible is to witness the sometimes more-quiet students in class, take on the role of a character and lead certain adventures and instances in their own worlds. Having a student not only control the nature of the conversation and events but create them and put them forward for their group members is awesome. Just to see them confident in their roles and in their ability to develop some efficacy in these large groups is worth it!”
Given its early and growing popularity, plans are already underway to bring it back in the fall.
All of which is welcome news for Cline in both a virtual and real world.
“I have learned the importance of being able to see your friends and how much people enjoy being able to socialize and play games with friends.”
Learn more about other Clubs and Activities at St. Michael’s College School.