January 17, 2023

Student Connections at AHS

At Ames High School, there are many ways to get involved by joining a myriad of clubs, being a member of an athletic team, or even taking part in the fine art programs AHS has to offer. These activities while teaching many valuable lessons outside the classroom, can possibly give students a new found hobby that they’ll enjoy throughout life.

“There is a strong correlation between student connectedness and the number of activities a student participates in. We also see a positive relationship between academic, behavior and attendance success and involvement in activities. It is exciting to see students learn so many new things when they get involved in activities.”

Lyle Fedders, Activities Director

Senior Ireland Buss and junior Akshay Sarda are two of the more involved students at AHS as they belong to clubs, participate in athletics, co-curricular activities and multiple volunteer opportunities.

Buss is involved with softball, track, volleyball, Dance Marathon, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Homecoming and prom committee, peer PE, student athletic directors, and iBall.

“Playing a variety of sports helps me not only athletically to become a better overall athlete, but a better teammate as well,” Buss shares. “Each sport has taught me so many different things on how I could improve mentally and as a better leader. With my other activities and clubs, they help me get to know a wider variety of people better which helps me connect to them at school in the hallways or in class. Being in activities like Dance Marathon, FCA, NHS and Peer PE really helps me give back to my school and community as well.”

Sarda participates in Bee Club, Community Care, EAST (Elementary After School Tutoring) SHEPH (Students Helping Eliminate Poverty and Hunger), HEROS (Health Education Reaching Our Students), Debate, Key Club, and Boys Tennis. Along with that, he is one of the Ames High SPIRIT Yearbook Co-editor-in-chiefs, and he plays in the tenors in the drumline.

“All of the clubs I participate in have astonishingly different communities, and I have met many different people and participated in a lot of activities because of my photography,” Sarda said. “Clubs create an environment similar to a community, whereas Yearbook, drumline, and the tennis team have become second families. Through drumline, and our traditions, like Cowbell, I feel like everyone shares something in our school, but I don’t think of our school as one big family. I think that we are a link of families that make a community, and in some way or another, each link connects to another.”

Sarda mentions that being a photographer has forced him to participate in many activities and meet many people that he feels he otherwise would not have, like being a floor photographer for Harrison Barnes’ Gym dedication and interviewing Barnes.

“Two clubs that I lead, Bee Club and HEROS, have helped me learn about different aspects of our community, but also the global community and its structure,” he said. “SHEPH and EAST, two other clubs that I help lead are very goal-oriented in serving the community; SHEPH has generated money yearly for unbound sponsorships for students overseas, and while we are still figuring out the arrangement for the tutoring program with the schedule change, EAST has the goal of helping close the knowledge divide that is very apparent among young students who were unable to learn over the pandemic and something that I saw as a tutor last year.”

Buss has found a familial bond with her teammates on and off the diamond.

“These past few years have really just been so inspiring to see my team and this program continually get better every year and reach bigger and better goals each year,” she said. “The team is like a family to me especially because you’re with them almost everyday in the summer and we get a lot of time to bond with each other.”

After her time with Ames High softball is over, she will head 10 minutes south of AHS’s diamond to play for Iowa State.

“I’ve always bled cardinal and gold ever since I was little so I’ve always been a huge cyclone fan, but I think a big thing that excites me is being able to play in front of all the little girls that are looking up to me and to show them through hard work that they can reach their highest goals and anything is possible (one of those little girls being my little sister),” Buss said. “I just want to be a good role model for them. It’ll also be very fun to go to the same college as my sister Joscelyn who also dives at Iowa State.”

Sarda, too, notices a familial atmosphere around the tennis team he is part of. In his freshman year, the team had 16 players, the majority of which were seniors. He says while that was intimidating to begin with, he quickly felt included and part of the group. 

“Everyone knew each other and at meets, we would all cheer each other on, regardless of where we were within the complex. Last year, our team size doubled and there was an extraordinary amount of freshmen,” said Sarda. “I think we really bonded as a group during our team dinners, and that made it even more fun to have a group of friends cheer me on.”

Some of his favorite activity anecdotal adjacent memories came during his sophomore year.

“One of my favorite memories was during the 2022 tennis season during our districts when my doubles partner and I made a marvelous comeback from being down 0-4 in the last set and winning six consecutive games,” Sarda said. “Another was visiting the AHS Bee Club hives before they died, and feeding sugar syrup to the honeybees. But my absolute favorite memory was driving up to Mason City to watch and photograph my sister (Preksha) play as the Varsity goalie during their first substate round and having a shutout.”

Fedders’ advice to students that might be looking at their peers and thinking about joining a club that their friends are in is to  get involved during your high school years as it is the only time in your life that you will be able to participate in the activities AHS has to offer.  

“Life goes by quickly and many people reflect back to high school and always say, ‘I wish I would have done that in high school’,” Fedders said.