Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM Minnechaug Regional High School students don't need to be Irish to join the high school's Gaelic Club. They just need to be interested in that region of the world's history and culture.
Being of Gaelic descent doesn't hurt, though.
The Gaelic Club, also known as the Irish Club, started at the high school three years ago with a single member. Today, the group has grown to approximately 16 active members they're always looking for more.
"There's so much that's happened in Ireland and I think kids need to know more about that," Minnechaug junior and Irish Club member Katie Cronin said. "We don't really study that in school. We study England, but not Ireland."
She and fellow club member Valerie Lawson, who were on hand at last week's open house at the high school to promote the club, agreed that the history of Irish immigrants in the U.S. needs more attention as well.
"The Irish history in America is like that of the African-Americans," Lawson said.
"We were not treated as we could have been," Cronin added.
Part of the Irish Club's mission is to spread that information to fellow students by utilizing displays throughout the school and hosting fundraisers for Irish-themed activities, including parties celebrating different Irish holidays including a Christmas party with the Ceili Crew, the Irish club of West Springfield High School, informational field trips to Irish festivals, Salem and Boston, and more.
Club advisor Christine Danker started the club at Minnechaug after reading about the Ceili Crew and said she "set it up to see what would happen." Though still in its nascent stages, it is growing.
"We would love to have new members," Danker said.
"The [Irish] culture is so much fun," Cronin said. "I lived in England for five years because my mom is in the Navy and we toured Ireland for a whole two weeks and I loved it."
Those who think the Irish Club is just about wearing green on St. Patrick's Day and learning about Michael Collins would be missing out on a lot, according the club members.
"This club is more than [a lot of people] think it is," Lawson said. "It's nice to know about different cultures."
Danker invites any community member who would like to share their Gaelic knowledge -- be it through storytelling, a craft, a dance or music -- to contact her at email@example.com.
The Irish Club will be meeting for the first time this school year on Sept. 11.