WHS Takes on Diversity

Some of the Diversity Coalition’s members on the first full day back in person handing out candy and positive messages.

Tara Smith, Junior Editor

The Diversity Coalition is the newest club at WHS formed by Madison Gates, Avital Goldberg-Curran, Izzy Bove-Dumin, Alex Silverman, and Alizae Gaston. Diversity is something that should always be prominent in any environment, but with recent events throughout the world the idea of diversity is more urgent than ever.

The coalition has a formal mission statement that was created by members: “Our mission as students of Waterford High School, is to build a more tolerant atmosphere that celebrates diversity and inclusion. We aspire to educate ourselves and others about different cultures, with emphasis on the injustices of our community, and to approach them with solutions, discussion, and progress. We further encourage kindness and partnership, as the words we use can have negative or positive consequences. The coalition encourages educators, administrators, and fellow students of WHS to welcome the difficult conversations and work together. We will empower all student voices and establish that hate and bigotry have no place in Waterford.” The coalition really wants to emphasize on a healthy and welcoming environment to all regardless of their race, sexuality, gender, etc.. 

Maddy Gates believed that the club could enhance the school community: “I have felt that there has lacked a safe and accessible resource for students to talk with each other and discuss their concerns.” The goal is to create a space where students, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, and/or neurodivergent features can have discussions and hang out without the fear of judgement from other people. Gates says, “The Diversity Coalition strives to achieve this loving and encouraging atmosphere, as a “coalition” means a group of different people who come together.” Not only is the diversity coalition a safe space for everyone but Gates details the necessity of the club by asking, “Without a way to express ourselves, and overall enjoy the beauty of diversity, then how can WHS truly be connected?” The pandemic has brought to light the increasing crisis of mental health as many students are feeling separated from WHS as it no longer feels like an interconnected community. Additionally, the highlight on the Black Lives Matter movement and discussion around racial injustice towards African Americans. Gates claims, “We need the Diversity Coalition to encourage communication and empower others so that this lack of awareness doesn’t translate to intolerance within our school community.”

Besides being a safe space for all students to discuss their concerns and use their voice for change, the goal of the coalition is to inform, celebrate, appreciate, and encourage. The hope is to form a community of allies that work together for ALL and discuss current events and unacceptable issues such as racism, sexisim, ableism, and bigotry. To promote the new club and its mission statement with the student body, by making posters to hang up around the school. The Diversity coalition has an instagram account that you can follow for updates and pictures from recent meetings (@whsdiversitycoalition). Gates says that she would like to branch out and utilize other social media platforms as the majority of students are on such platforms and it can be an effective tool to spread the word.

Gates speaks about how the pandemic has brought to light how much WHS and the Waterford community needs the Diversity Coalition. She hopes to see even residents become more accepting and tolerant as well as the student population. Gates says “Basic love” is what we need and it is as simple as that. She says, “We need more love and not unforgivable attitudes about things we do not understand and refuse to.” She stresses the importance of the environment being one that encourages and embraces everyone as well as not allowing cliques and casual bigotry to permeate the students and teachers. In the end, “The Diversity Coalition is a mode for this change, but it is really the people of WHS who can make it more inclusive.”

When asked about what role Gates sees the Diversity Coalition playing in the change that needs to be made, Gates says, “We will hold student-led open discussions, read diverse books, learn about current events, make uplifting posters, and more in order to promote openness and acceptance.” Gates hopes the student body learns, “. . .that our voices matter. We have a role in this community and can make a change, but only if we work together.” Gates expresses that a little kindness can go extremely far whether it is complimenting someone or holding the door open for them. “Whatever it be, the smallest actions can have the greatest effects.” Gates says that the Diversity Coalition isn’t just a club, but a movement that she believes “will persevere and make a real, tangible impact on Waterford High School. So far, the Diversity Club has handed out candy and positive notes on the first full in-person day, painted inspirational rocks, and helped the Women’s Empowerment Club raise money for women’s sports.

Join the WHS Diversity Coalition today to make a real impact in our school and town community today! Contact Madison Gates ([email protected]), Mrs. Baumgartner ([email protected]), Mrs. Thibeau ([email protected]), or any of the founding members of the club for more information regarding the coalition and when it meets after school!