Trini Hoffman, Director of Student Activities
At Mercersburg Academy, boarding school is far from being “boring” school. With more than 45 clubs and organizations, 27 interscholastic teams, outdoor education, and the Student Activities Committee (SAC), there’s never a dull moment.
SAC, led by director Trini Hoffman, helps to plan more than 120 activities for students to participate in throughout the school year—everything from dances to bingo nights to trips to Philadelphia or New York City, and more. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, SAC is also providing a robust array of virtual offerings. Follow along on the SAC Instagram page.
Student-run clubs and activities address social issues, immerse members in diverse cultures, develop athletic prowess, gear students for future careers, or just provide a relaxing and enjoyable break from the rigors of studying.
Our arts department encompasses not just classes, but provides opportunities for students to expand their creative interests through art exhibits, music and dance concerts, and our Stony Batter Players (Mercersburg’s student theatre company). Learn more about our arts program and extracurricular offerings.
No matter what you’re into, you’re sure to find a group of like-minded people to share and develop your interest.
Every student who attends Mercersburg can lay claim to being a member of either Irving or Marshall. These two societies participate annually in a fun-loving but fierce midwinter competition connected to a long and serious tradition of debating at the school.
In fact, the societies are the school’s oldest organizations—older than the school itself. Precedent for societies began in 1835, when the original students of Marshall College maintained two societies, the Diagnothian and Goethean literary societies. In 1866, they were renamed the Washington Irving Literary Society and John Marshall Literary Society. The first debate occurred in 1894, under Mercersburg’s founding Headmaster Dr. William Mann Irvine on Washington’s Birthday. This began the tradition of midwinter weekend competitions in February.
Although it has evolved, the competition continues today as a spirit-filled week of rivalry in a variety of events, such as pool, chess, swimming, volleyball, and basketball. The week culminates in Declamation, where individuals present practiced monologues as representatives of their societies. Afterward, students attend a dance, where the results of the speaking contest and the winning society are announced.
Blue Review (literary journal)
Blue Review (view the 2020 publication) was originally founded as The Lit, a literary publication, in 1901. Its name changed in the 1980s, and shortly after, artwork was included in the annual publication for the first time. The Columbia Scholastic Press Association critiques Blue Review each year, and the publication has steadily placed in the top two categories, receiving several Gold Crown and Silver Crown awards. The 2019 Blue Review received a Silver Crown.
The Mercersburg News
The Mercersburg News is Mercersburg Academy’s student-run newspaper. Founded in 1901, the News is proud to be one of the few high-school newspapers in the country to follow a regular weekly publication schedule during the academic year. All articles are written by Mercersburg students and cover campus events, national and world news, sports, arts, and student interests. The News staff always looks to welcome new reporters, photo editors, and copy editors to the team.
Print editions are distributed around campus and mailed to alumni and parents. For more information or to subscribe, contact faculty advisers Allison Stephens or Frank Betkowski. The News is a member of the Pennsylvania School Press Association.
Looking to find your place at Mercersburg? The following list of clubs and organizations is a good place to start. Don’t see a group that meets your interests? Propose your own—any faculty adviser can help.
Art Club is a club where students can enjoy an environment of creativity and inspiration with like people and friends. Members of this club meet once a month for one or two hours.
The goals of the Asian Student Union are to introduce the Mercersburg community to diverse Asian cultures as well as spread awareness about racism toward Asians and xenophobia.
The main purpose of the BSU is to provide an opportunity for black students to have a dialog and to promote an atmosphere that allows them to have a positive experience while they are at Mercersburg. The club is open to anyone, and every year it has members of all races and nationalities. During meetings, the BSU discusses fundraisers, dances, group meals, Martin Luther King Jr. Day events, current events, movies to attend, and more.
The Blue Key Society assists the Admission Office in providing the best possible experience for every prospective family, alumni, or visitor to the Academy. Duties include, but are not limited to, prospective family tours, open houses, and revisit days. The Blue Key Society is proud to have exemplary members of the Mercersburg community who embody the mission of the school.
Blue Review, originally founded as The Lit in 1901, is the literary publication of Mercersburg Academy. It includes both written material and artwork.
The Academy Library is proud to sponsor book clubs based on student interest. In the past, clubs have included a general fiction club and a science fiction/fantasy club. The clubs meet once a month, and each member who attends the meetings receives the book courtesy of the library. Samples of past selections chosen include The Martian by Andy Weir, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
The only musical ensemble on campus consisting of students, faculty, and staff is the Chapel Choir. The group rehearses once a week and sings for Chapel services about twice a month.
Chapel Ushers assist with various events hosted in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. They assist with Sunday worship, the nursery offered during the service, and special events such as the Christmas Candlelight Service, Convocation, and Baccalaureate. Anyone can be a Chapel Usher, however, ushers need to be comfortable assisting with a religious service (even if they do not practice that religion).
This club meets weekly for one hour. Students new to the game can learn how to play, and those who already know how to play will learn to get better. The goal of the club is to advance the appreciation of the game.
The Civil Air Patrol Club’s objective is to strengthen the communal bond between Mercersburg Academy and the town of Mercersburg through volunteerism, while demonstrating the Civil Air Patrol’s four core values of integrity, respect, excellence, and volunteer service.
Climbing Club is a group of students from diverse outdoor backgrounds and varied experience levels united by a passion for climbing and camaraderie. The group meets to climb multiple times each term, typically on Sundays (so that members with other commitments can attend).
Conservative Club exists to create a space for open conversation and dialogue. While open to all, the objective is to gear discussion to members of the Mercersburg community who are right of center on the political spectrum. We seek to come together in order to both share and promote our beliefs and ideals, while fostering respectful and honest political conversation for all on our campus, including those who do not consider themselves politically conservative.
The objective of Fencing Club is to make fencing a more widespread activity in the school. Anyone is welcome if they are interested in learning how to fence, and all should understand the importance of rules and safety.
Four-on-the-Floor celebrates the music, dancing, and style of the swing era (1926-1946). We learn the steps and attend dances in Carlisle, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, among other places.
The French Club welcomes all students to come and enjoy the cultural and linguistic aspects of French. We meet once a month for two hours to cook, listen to music, watch films, discuss haute couture and work on conversational expressions in a comfortable low stakes environment.
Gaming Club is a collective of nerds and geeks alike; more accurately, whoever wants to have fun! Our most frequent meetings consist of Dungeons and Dragon (D&D) run by several volunteer Dungeon Masters (DM) from campus. We also run schoolwide gaming events each term from board games to video games, along with our now annual Marvel movie trip. In the end, Gaming Club is focused on community and fun, because everyone occasionally needs to have a bit of fun with friends. If we are having fun, we are doing it right.
The Green Team, Mercersburg’s student-driven environmental organization, has been in existence since 2000. This group leads numerous annual programs to educate the community.
Inspired by the popular Instagram “Humans of New York,” Humans of Mercersburg seeks to highlight members of the school community by giving them an outlet to share their stories and, in return, get to know the people around them. To see some of the current stories, check out the Instagram page @humansoftheburg.
Every student who attends Mercersburg is a member of either the Irving Literary Society or the Marshall Literary Society. These two societies participate annually in a fun-loving but fierce midwinter competition.
The Jazz Band follows the traditional big-band format with 14 to 16 musicians playing saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, guitar, piano, and bass.
Jewish Club's purpose is to provide Jewish students support, to facilitate their ability to practice their beliefs, and to share their culture with the school community. The club usually sponsors a Chanukah celebration and a Passover dinner each year. Jewish Club also arranges, with the support of the school minister, for students to attend services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at one of the local synagogues. If students want to celebrate one of the other holidays during the year, the club works with them to create that celebration. For example, for several years, there was a celebration of Sukkot, formal lighting of candles on Friday night, and some Shabbat dinners.
Magalia is an audition-only group that includes approximately 9-12 female singers and performs a cappella selections similar to many college vocal ensembles.
Every student who attends Mercersburg is a member of either the Marshall Literary Society or the Irving Literary Society. These two societies participate annually in a fun-loving but fierce midwinter competition.
Math Club seeks to create a supportive community and expose all students to fun, intuitive math concepts outside of the typical high school curriculum. We collaborate on puzzles, watch math videos, and share thoughts on problem solving. We meet weekly for 60 to 90 minutes on Sundays and welcome all who are interested to join us.
This club offers students who show interest in investment an opportunity to learn investment strategies and profile building using virtual accounts on online platforms.
The Mercersburg News is the school’s student-run newspaper. Founded in 1901, the News is proud to be one of the few high-school newspapers in the country to follow a regular weekly publication schedule during the academic year.
The goal of this club is to teach mindfulness strategies in an appealing way and to give ourselves time to press pause.
The Model Railroad Club’s goal is to bring a renewed light and energy to the John B. McFadden Model Railroad Museum and its model railroad collection. The club encourages the exhibits of students and the school community through biweekly openings.
In Model United Nations, students take part in simulations of the United Nations’ committees and other diplomatic bodies. Students assume the roles of real-life or fictional people and research their positions ahead of time in preparation for conferences. Members learn and refine the skills of negotiation, debate, and diplomacy through interactions with fellow students from around the world.
The Octet is an audition-only group that includes eight male singers and performs a cappella selections similar to many college groups.
Photography Club provides an opportunity for the members to explore photography beyond the classroom. We have regular outings and photo shoots, we participate in community activities taking commissions, and we also work with the school to help with event photography.
Ping-Pong Club offers opportunities both for those who are interested in learning to play ping-pong (table tennis) and those who already know how to play the sport.
The robotics club is an opportunity for students who are interested in robotics to utilize lab time to explore programming, robot design, and 3D modeling. This is a student-led opportunity where club members are mentored by students who completed the robotics course.
The Russian Club promotes understanding and celebration of the Russian culture on campus.
Sixth Man is Mercersburg's student spirit group. Leaders organize cheering sections for contests, help stage promotional activities, and find creative ways to support the Blue Storm. Any student can be a member of Sixth Man.
Students of any skiing ability have the opportunity to travel to nearby Whitetail Ski Resort up to four days a week during the winter.
Stony Batter is Mercersburg’s student theatre company, which presents four major theatrical productions each year. Stony Batter students contribute both on and off stage to ensure that each production is the best it can be.
SAC helps to plan more than 120 activities for students to participate in throughout the school year, including dances and bingo nights, trips off campus, and more.
The Student Alumni Association is made up of current students who help connect alumni with current students at our school. Our goal is to educate our internal and external teams about philanthropy, the importance of it, its effects on our campus, and the role that stewardship has. Activities include (but are not limited to) Thank-a-thons, note writing, video recording, social media, phone-a-thons, and office-related activities.
The Fifteen is a group of seniors considered by the English Department as exemplary students in the study of English. It’s not necessarily those with the highest grades. A new group is selected each year for their intellect, enthusiasm for learning, and their penchant for discussions. The group meets once per term to discuss a given work. English faculty attend the meetings, mainly as observers and occasional contributors. Recent readings include Thirst, a book of poems by Mary Oliver, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
The goal of this club is to raise awareness of the sport of ultimate frisbee and to promote team bonding by playing ultimate frisbee.
Founded in 1894, the Karux, Mercersburg Academy’s yearbook, is the oldest student-created publication at Mercersburg. A staff of approximately 20 students works throughout the year, taking photos, writing articles, and organizing pages to capture the highlights of each year at Mercersburg.