Whatcom’s newest clubs unite interest on campus

By: Gregory Lane

Whatcom students and Chess Club members Michael Bai and Travis Deppe focus intently on a game during their weekly meeting. Photo by Gregory Lane
Whatcom students and Chess Club members Michael Bai and Travis Deppe focus intently on a game during their weekly meeting. Photo by Gregory Lane

Students at Whatcom Community College have been busy this year getting a variety of student clubs up and running, including Chess Club and Improv Club. Late winter quarter and this spring have both seen the rise of these two new clubs.

Chess Club

Chess club was started by Paulo Panazzolo, an international student from Brazil studying at Whatcom with the Community College Initiative Program, an international program which aims to help international students develop English and leadership skills. Like many students at Whatcom, Panazzolo said he is very busy but found time to organize Chess Club at the end of winter quarter.

Panazzolo said one of the greatest challenges he’s faced with setting up his club is getting people to take an interest in chess and breaking the stereotype of chess being “slow and boring.”

“Most people don’t like chess because they don’t know how to do it, so it’s like math where people don’t like it because they don’t understand it,” Panazzolo said.

Learning how to play chess at a young age, Panazzolo said he’s always had a passion for the game and has called it an activity where “science meets art.” He said chess has certain strategies within the game and emphasized how chess is adaptable but has rules to it to make for a successful game.

“My record for playing chess was 13 hours in a single session of games,” Panazzolo said. “That was when I was 15 years old.”

Panazzolo said he came to America under the Community College Initiative Program to study early childhood education and hopes to bring the skills he’s learned home with him to Brazil.

“I really want to have the option to go back to America later,” Panazzolo said.

The future of Chess Club is unknown at this time as Panazzolo said he knows he cannot continue with the club when he leaves America. He said he is looking for someone to take over for him before he leaves but he would still like to be involved up until the end.

“One of the goals of the Chess Club was to make a tournament,” Panazzolo said. “But it’s not easy to organize a tournament.”

To properly hold a tournament the club would need more chess sets, a special clock called a chess clock to time games, and students to participate, he said.

Panazzolo and the club meet every Friday in Syre 216 at 3:30 p.m. Students interested in joining are free to show up at meetings or to contact Panazzolo or the club’s adviser, Iris Anthony.

Improv Club

Improv club provides students with a place and a time to enjoy improvisational games and comedy, and fellow students to do it with. Led by club president Velvet Humphres and vice president Alex Crockett, the students of Improv Club spend much of their time playing games.

“Improv Club is like Drama Club but you create a story as you go,” said Crockett. “It’s similar to the things done on ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’”

Crockett said the club has existed for some time but was officially recognized as a Whatcom club just over a month ago.

Anya Rest, a member of Improv Club said her favorite thing about the club is “the laughter and the overall energy of the group.”

“All it takes is under an hour of improv for a room full of people to become comfortable around each other,” Rest said.

Rest and a few other students in the club began attending because one of the advisers of the club, Guy Smith, offers extra credit to students in his communications class who join.

“It was the first time I was in a club where I felt I was truly a part of one,” Rest said.

Smith said last year and the year before that there was a club called “Waffle” and it was a debate team. “We didn’t get many people but it was the same club that started doing improve,” he said. “Velvet and Crockett got Improv Club going and it has technically been around for about three years.”

Smith said many of the members are drama students, but five of his current communications students and five former students attend as well. he said improv is a great tool for helping public speaking skills and makes one more adaptable.

During a brief pause of a game called “ninja,” an activity where players take turns swatting at each other’s hands and tagging players out in an attempt to become the last individual standing, Rest said that most meetings begin with an introduction game where everyone stands in a circle, and one by one they strike a pose and introduce themselves.

Other games club members play at meetings include “the TV game,” “freeze,” “party bus,” and “you’re late.”

The TV game is an activity where two individuals act as people watching television and their remote has the ability to make the TV do nearly any action they desire. Two other players act as the TV program in accordance to the demands of the TV watchers, acting out shows such as fast-talking Mexican soap operas, Animal Planet specials, and salesmen in commercials. “Buttons” on this imaginary TV remote also have the capability to make the actors fast forward their actions, reverse them, slow them down, or as one instance revealed, turn on “Godzilla Mode.”

Improv Club meets behind the Syre Auditorium in the stage’s black box room on Thursdays at 4 p.m.


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