Champions Of Variety Instill Diversity

West Geauga Joins the Ranks of “No Place for Hate” as a District

Champions Of Variety Instill Diversity

With the constant influx of political and social changes in the world recently, national requirements were addressed that established West Geauga High School as a, “No Place for Hate” institution. Current senior, Elizabeth Piekarski, created the high school’s Anti-Defamation League chapter last school year. What’s the ADL ? Good question !

The ADL seeks to address social justice, awareness of diversity in race, religion, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, health, eliminating implicit biases, and allowing these discussions to take place in the classroom. The club’s objectives are, as described by staff advisor and math teacher, Mr. Ethan Teare, as, “…[making] our school community a more accepting and inclusive place” and “[facilitating] awareness of all of the ways in which one can be diverse.”

 The ADL has been operating since last school year under the guidance of Mr. Teare, foreign language teacher, Mrs. Shannua Crossman, and its student members. Notable members include President Elizabeth Piekarski, vice president Anna Weiss, secretary Hana Naghmouchi, treasurer Tessa Kautz, and board member Jillian Smith, as well as other general members. 

The club meets one day per week to discuss inclusivity and diversity, as well as how to implement proper changes where needed and awareness into the school. The conversation is based upon, “…some type of reading, video, podcast, excerpt, or anything else that strengthens our own members’ understanding and awareness of the values we represent,” said Mr. Teare. The ADL is about educating and informing young people about relevant social issues. 

“I think that no matter who you are or where you live, it is always possible to learn more about others: others who do not look the same as you, think the same as you, or believe the same as you. I think this is how we are all able to grow,” Teare continued. “We need to make sure that West G. is a place where anyone feels accepted and valued.”

One of the positive aspects of the ADL is the young, innovative mind that brought it to West G. “When I started ADL, we had clubs like Interact and Key Club focused on bettering the community, but not much was being done to better the community within the high school,” Piekarski offered. “I wanted to start something that wouldn’t just provide volunteer hours or look good on college applications, but would create a lasting impact in the halls of West G long after I graduated.” Piekarski worked with Principal Mr. Jay Bishop and two former West Geauga students to kickstart the ADL. As for the ultimate purpose of this inclusivity club, Piekarski said the ADL was important as students rethink their “actions and priorities” towards the subject. 

The ADL has proven that it is possible to introduce these discussions into an academic environment in a way that is inclusive and sensitive to all those involved. In the future, the ADL plans to create its own podcast, have guest speakers, more lessons and discussions, and work with other schools and institutions for its objectives. 

To date the West Geauga ADL has produced two informational videos that were broadcast during the morning announcements, as well as having the student body participate in a “Beneath the Surface” exercise, where students noted things on a piece of paper that might not be visible “on the surface” to someone who saw them. 

Piekarski, a senior, will be transferring the president position after graduation, “In the future, I hope the ADL creates an inclusive and comfortable environment all throughout West G and creates as many programs as possible to give students the help and resources they need to thrive academically, mentally, and socially during high school.”