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Groups provide diversity and inclusion

Culture+Club+officers+plan+their+meeting+about+Greece.
Caique Agra Dias
Culture Club officers plan their meeting about Greece.

Novi High School has many groups to enjoy after school, including clubs and interest groups that promote diversity throughout the school community. The proposal for most of these groups is to share their culture, bring visibility to a minority, or just be a safe place for sensitive topics. In short, they aim to bring visibility to underrepresented groups and unite students. 

 

The Culture Club is a group of people who care about people of different cultures having their voices heard. Art teacher Laura Schnurstein has been the advisor for the Culture Club since the beginning. In January 2018, alumni Hannah Sherrod and Toya Smith-Bakes came to Schnurstein with their idea.

 

“They were like, ‘We would like to start a group that studies different cultures each month.’ They had a mission statement already. They had a list of at least 10 people they were friends with who wanted to come. They had emails for them in a list already,” Schnurstein said.

 

In the spring of 2022, they became an official club. Culture Club meets one Friday each month and officers meet once per month to plan, as well. The fun part of the group is that they don’t talk about one country or one part of the world. They always change the culture or country that they are talking about.

 

English teacher Kristen Mrozek advises Spanish Club, Dear Asian Youth Club and the Hispanic Latino Heritage Interest Group. It is difficult for her to manage three groups in the same year, however she wants to give students a space to be comfortable with who they are and to learn about other cultures.

 

“I think each of those groups is very important. I’m Mexican, and I feel very strongly about people learning about my culture, but also feeling safe enough to express their own,” Mrozek said. “My goal is to give kids a space to feel like they can speak and learn how to speak and to share.”

 

Japanese teacher Jenny Shuman is the new advisor for the Japanese club. They are a club that tries to expand and strengthen the community of Japanese students at the school.

 

“We have a lot of Asian students in our school and a lot of them are Japanese. A lot of people come to Japanese clubs in order to meet people that are of either Asian descent or Japanese descent and learn more about them and more about their culture,” Shuman said. “Usually, a lot of them will bring their friends who are of different cultures. So it’s kind of like a big melting of a whole bunch of different cultures around the school. It’s a great opportunity to meet Japanese people and make Japanese friends.”

 

Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is an older group in our school. They bring awareness ofimportant LGBTQ+ topics to their meetings, such as HIV/AIDS or banned books. It’s also a safe place for LGBTQ+ people to gather. The leaders Arieis Feldpausch, Theo Trout, and Irmina Wladyszewska always plan informational slides with all of the resources listed so people can continue their research.

 

“I believe that GSA is important because queer people are typically a minority and as a result, their voices get overpowered and overshadowed. So being able to give these people a place to give their opinions and speak their truth, and to talk about things that are important to them is incredibly important because there are a lot of people who will not ever be able to have that space and start talking,” Trout said. 

 

Girls Who Code is a national organization who wants to get more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, and Math). We have a small part of this big program at Novi led by senior Jennifer Rajesh who has been in this program since her freshman year. 

 

“The biggest thing that our club strives to promote is closing the gender gap in STEM. There’s this gender gap where there are oftentimes boys and men who join STEM, and oftentimes there are not really many girls as of right now. I believe the percentage is that only 18% of women make up the STEM group. And honestly, that’s a really low number when you think about how much technology impacts our lives,” Rajesh Said. 

 

International Student Association & Ambassadors meets once a month. The ESL Students International Success Coach, better known as Shannon Hadley, is the person who helps them and schedules meetings with the officers.

 

“It gives students an opportunity for leadership because oftentimes they don’t get that opportunity with our other clubs and sports teams because students don’t know them so they don’t get voted in,” Hadley said. “But with this, they have an opportunity for leadership and it’s a safe place to practice English with friends, and to make friends from different cultures who have the same experience of moving here.”

 

Black Student Alliance is an interest group that unites non-white students and is led by English teacher Tory Spring. They are a newer interest group that has had some very interesting meetings so far, such as Friendsgiving and movie days.

 

“The Black Student Alliance is very important because these black students know by being the African American students or the Nigerian students, or the Caribbean or Jamaican or Haitian students, or the biracial students often have conveyed that they do not have a space where they feel like they can belong,” Spring said.

 

What all of these groups have in common is the mission to provide a safe space for diverse students, to help them fit in with people like them, and to see that they are not alone. It is extremely important to continue to create interest groups and clubs to include everyone.

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About the Contributor
Caique Agra Dias, Staff Writer
Caique Agra Dias is a 16-year-old Brazilian student who loves to enjoy his free time to hang out with his friends. He loves movies (especially horror movies) and animals. If he has to stay in one place for the rest of his life, it will be at the beach. He is a Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter universe. You can contact him at [email protected]

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    Danna PerezDec 20, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    I loved everything u wrote here!! It’s awesome how a bunch of people are joining HLH it makes me so happy!! You’ve been doing such a great job, also Ms. Mrozek Thank u so much for thinking of Hispanic and Latino kids and Create HLH it was so fun while I was there I had so much fun meeting students from the same country as me and others from countries that speak the same language as me and get to learn about my latino/hispanic community!! I miss you all and welcome to the news caique thank u so much for being there at HLH wish I could’ve met u!! And everyone who’s working at HLH great job u guys!! I’m so happy for y’all!!

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