In Da Club featuring CROYA

CC Carter, Staff Writer

Our In Da Club series is an in-depth Q&A aimed at giving readers a look at one of the school’s clubs. If would like your club involved, please send us an email at [email protected]

The acronym CROYA stands for “Committee Representing Our Young Adults.” In order to lift the curtain on the little-known world of CROYA, we interviewed a ‘community’ of members in order to gain some knowledge on the club.

Why do you like CROYA?

Haley Banta, Chairwoman: I like CROYA because it has been the most loving, supportive, and influential community in my life. Any day that I stop in, there are always fun people there to joke around with and I’ve made friends with people I may never have known without CROYA. It’s a place where I’m always welcome and is simply always a great time.

Ryan Klein, Topic Co-Chair: It’s a constant in my life. Life can be filled with lots of twists and turns, and especially a lot of changes. However, throughout my entire highschool career, CROYA has always been a place where I can expect a welcoming and friendly environment. And I don’t expect that to change anytime soon…

Bea Pierce, Fundraising Coordinator: I like CROYA because it gives you an opportunity to meet new people and additionally it has given me so many new opportunities and experiences that forever hold a special place in my heart.

Kerrigan Weston, Community Service and Leadership Vice Chair: I like CROYA because it was there for me when I didn’t really have anyone else.

Ryan McFadden, Community Service and Leadership Vice Chair: I like CROYA because I think their values are really great and their mission is something that I want to be a part of. I like the people that work there and go there, I like the atmosphere and I like going to activities and events that they organize. Honestly I just really like how genuine the people there are and I like being part of their community because I think they’re sincerely trying to have an impact on high schoolers and I really like being a part of that social community. Idk it’s just really fun and super casual and the more I get involved the more I like it.

Gina Sobhy, former Chairwoman (2018-2019): As a community we are so lucky to have CROYA or anything like it. Every day students face troubles and sometimes need a break from their day-to-day friends or families. CROYA gives students the opportunity to have a place where they’re always welcome and at home. It has successfully hired some of the most genuine and down to earth staff to provide this sort of setting for the youth. However, one of my favorite parts of CROYA is that it is for the youth and made by the youth. You’re able to make your CROYA experience whatever you want to make of it. In order to be a “CROYA kid” you don’t have to stop by every day. You can come once a year and still be greeted with open arms no matter what. CROYA is one of the most loving parts of the community I have been apart of.

Whitney Jannotta, member: I like getting to know people that go to CROYA that you go to school with don’t but don’t really see, but when you see them in the halls it’s another friendly face you know.

Catherine Grey, advisor: I don’t know how else to put it other than it’s my dream job. I’ve never felt more welcomed somewhere in my whole life!

How would you say this year is going for CROYA?

Weston: This year is going great! There are a lot of underclassmen this year which is a huge change from what it has been in the past. However, the energy this year is higher than I have ever seen it; people are super energetic about CROYA this year.

Grey: I would say this year is going great! We just had lots of people graduate from peer training and peer advanced. Our meetings are super well attended. We also have our 40th birthday party coming up in May, so the year is only getting better!

Banta: This year has been going really strong! I’m super excited about how the attendance has been at the Wednesday night meetings, not only do we get a good amount of people but there’s a ton of new people coming too – from all different grades. We brought in a hypnotist for the first time earlier this year and we are planning a 40th anniversary party for CROYA in late May, so we have a lot of fun new stuff going on in addition to the regular stuff going well.

McFadden: CROYA is doing great this year. The (fall) retreat was dope, we got a lot of new people from all grades, so that was sick. Also, the meetings have been well attended and I think people are really enjoying it.

What kind of person would be interested in joining?

Banta: The beauty of CROYA is absolutely any person can find a place at CROYA. If you’re interested in meeting new people and like trying new things, our Wednesday’s night meetings are always very social, complete with a fun activity like trivia or dodgeball. If you want to just chill out and make friends, after school hours are always a fun way to meet a couple cool new people.

Pierce: Any high schooler that is looking for a fun time, and even a place to relax, hangout, or even a new place to meet new people!

Who is CROYA’s MVP this year so far? Why?

Banta: This year, CROYA got a new youth worker (the wonderful Catherine) who has made a huge impact and brought her own friendly and funny personality to the club.

Klein: Definitely Lucas Redding and Haley Banta. Both have just totally brought such a good energy to CROYA and their dedication is very apparent. I would also like to shout of some of the sophomore and freshman guys that have been coming. They’re all energetic and a good group all together.

Weston: Ryan McFadden because he led on the retreat for the first time in the fall and everyone was raving about how much fun they had with him and how welcoming he was as a leader and made their first real CROYA experience a fun and memorable one.

Who or what would make the perfect member of CROYA?

Banta: With CROYA, there’s always something new to try and new people to meet, so the characteristics that make up a good member is dedicated, open-minded and kind.

Klein:  There is no perfect CROYA person. There’s no mold you have to fit, really anyone can enjoy it for their own different reasons. But if I had to pick, I think Bill Nye would be pretty popular at a meeting, he seems like a pretty cool guy.

McFadden:  The perfect CROYA member is anyone who has an open mind about new things and wants to get to know new people and have fun.

What are some common misconceptions about CROYA?

Banta: A common misconception about CROYA is that it’s hard to join if you don’t know people that are involved or are an upperclassmen that has never been before, but that is absolutely not true. There are a lot of service opportunities, student union hours and activities (like peer training, for example) for people to get involved with if they’re new to CROYA. And the absolute best part of every Wednesday night meeting is seeing new faces. CROYA is for absolutely everyone!

Sobhy: One of the biggest misconceptions of CROYA is that we spend every Wednesday night in a circle discussing our feelings. Contrary to popular belief that is just not true. Wednesday nights consist of games, food, and quality, happy time with each other. This misconception might come from the understanding that at some point on biannual CROYA retreats students are given an opportunity to open up on behalf of any issue they are facing at home, school, or in their social groups. People use the CROYA retreats as outlets as they should but that does not mean that being at CROYA means that you will or have to ever discuss your personal lives.

Grey: Some people think that CROYA is a place for kids who are struggling with an issue and need extra support and some people think it’s for kids who are outgoing leaders that want to run retreats and do lots of community service. Not only is it BOTH of those things, but it’s also a place for kids who want to have fun, want to play music at a band jam, just want a snack, are waiting for mom and dad to get off work, want to take a music lesson, need counseling services, or just want to hang out with friends and laugh after school.

McFadden: Well first off people for sure think it’s “cliquey” or like not a very welcoming environment when you first show up but that’s not true. The people are really cool and honestly try to make an effort to welcome new people and make them feel comfortable which is cool.

Talk a little bit about the advisors of CROYA.

Weston: Almost everyday I don’t have something going on after school, like sports clubs or babysitting, I find myself at CROYA with the staff. They have become some of my role models and are always there to chat with me when I need it or when I just want to hang out. they are super approachable and easy to talk to and have become some of my closet adult role models and friends.

Banta: The advisors of CROYA are some of my absolute favorite people. Leslie, Rick, Todd and Catherine are all eager to meet new kids (some of them are at school every Wednesday looking to bring new people to CROYA!) and are so supportive of whatever kids want to do at CROYA (last year we had a Naf naf and Roti taste test sponsored by CROYA). They care so much about every kid at CROYA and are always willing to talk about absolutely anything, whether you need advice or just want to hangout. They all spend so much time at CROYA and are a constant source of love and light in my life, which is a huge part of why being at CROYA is so fun!

Describe some of the fun you have with CROYA?

Sobhy: Knowing that I would spend my Wednesday night at CROYA was one of the few things that would get me through the school week. It was the best break in the middle of the week from all things stressful. It wasn’t the activities that we would do that made it fun but it was the people we would do them with.

Pierce: In CROYA, we have high school meetings every Wednesday, like dodgeball, hypnosis, holiday parties, and more!

Weston: In CROYA, I find myself playing games that I wouldn’t normally play with people I don’t always hang out with. It has taught me the value of friends outside of my typical groups and even outside of my grade. It has opened my eyes to the wonderful people in the high school and how anyone can be friends with anyone! At CROYA, I love to catch up with people I don’t see very often, play unique and fun games and spend time with the amazing staff.

If CROYA was an animal, what animal would it be?

Banta: If CROYA was an animal it would be a golden retriever dog because it is friendly, loves everyone and very active.

Klein: An elephant, for sure. Elephants are kind and welcoming creatures who also apparently never forget. I think CROYA has a lot of wonderful and timeless memories associated with it.

Jannotta: A dolphin because they are super friendly and they like to be in a group almost like a community, which is like CROYA.

Weston:  A pit bull because it is scary to approach at first, but it actually turns out to be nice. People make assumptions about it that aren’t true.

CROYA has their own meeting space located on the backside of the Lake Forest Rec Center. Their high school meetings are held weekly on Wednesday nights and are all-inclusive to all high school age groups.