More than just a paddle


Matan Silverberg

Juniors Josh Kelner and Aiden Melkin battle each other in a friendly game of ping pong.

Matan Silverberg, Managing Editor, Copy

While walking past the gym during community time, one can hear ping pong balls whizzing through the air and slamming against the table. Founded by its junior presidents Kai Schreim and Oliver Strent, the Ping Pong Club meets every Wednesday during community time, and occasionally meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays depending on the availability of the gym. 

During the past summer, Schreim attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Conference, where he was taught ways to support and uplift those in his community. Schreim sought to apply his new leadership skills to the CESJDS community, and launching a ping pong club seemed like the perfect idea. 

“I thought to myself: what would be something that everyone can play and everyone can participate in? Ping Pong is a fun thing that is not limited to a certain group,” Schreim said. 

After his idea to start the Ping Pong club was approved by Dean of Students Roz Landy, Schreim went to recruit a co-president to help him launch the club. He chose junior Oliver Strent, who was both a good friend of Schreim and a star ping pong player. With their faculty sponsor and the Upper School Human Exercise Science Department Chair, Steven Forestieri, the two presidents worked together to organize ping pong equipment and publicize the club. 

“I was excited that the ping pong club was going to become a real thing and that sounded like a really fun idea,” Strent said. “I was excited to work with Kai because he also plays ping pong and I’m friends with him.”

Despite having a large attendance, the club got off to a rough start. When the club first met back in October, there were 15 attendees but only one ping pong table for everyone to share. 

“I saw the longest line of my life and I was worried that [the club] was not going to work,” Schreim said. “We needed a new table.” 

With assistance from Forestieri and High School Principal Dr. Lisa Vardi, Schreim purchased a new ping pong table that arrived shortly before winter break. Forestieri reasoned that the new table would be a worthwhile investment for the school community. 

Since the initial obstacles of founding the club, the Ping Pong Club has flourished, attracting many students from various grades. Approximately 30 people attend the club each week, doubling the number of people who attended the first meeting. 

“I go every week now,” junior Aiden Melkin said. “I enjoy Ping Pong Club because it creates a competitive environment around a really cool sport. It’s also a place where I can spend time with friends and even have fun while I’m not playing.”

Schreim and Strent have instituted other ideas to enhance the competitive environment of the club. Shortly after Winter Break, they introduced a power ranking system, where Schreim and Strent rank the top 15 players of the club. Junior Jonah Gross has been ranked as the number one player every week since the introduction of the system. 

“While there are a lot of talented players, I am not surprised to see myself at the top. I believe in the off-season work I have put in and I look forward to remaining there for the rest of the year,” Gross said.

The presidents also hope to extend the season into the summer and potentially set up a tournament against a few other schools. As an executive of the Chess Club, Schreim was able to organize chess matches against other schools, and he hopes that he will be able to do the same with ping pong. 

“We’ve created this community with ping pong, one of competition, friendship, and respect,” Schreim said. “I’m grateful that we have done so well thus far and I am excited for what the rest of the year will bring.”