With junior Carmen Vizin-Esquivel standing at the front of the room, students of different grades and ethnicities sat around at desks and learned about the new Upstanders Club. An idea that stemmed from an AP class last year, it was the club’s introductory meeting.
“I’m very thrilled to get it started because it was just an idea and I was thinking no one would be interested in it, but seeing all these people here today really gives me hope for the future and motivates me to keep going and keep pushing myself,” Vizin-Esquivel said.
The club focuses on social issues and differences among students and groups here at school and holds meetings on every other Friday after school.
“[The club] is a good way to spread humanity. We’ve got a lot of things going on in this country and in other countries around the world and so we can all talk about things like peace and war,” Vizin-Esquivel said.
The Upstanders’ sponsor is History and Sociology teacher Stephanie Krzeminski. As a teacher of a class rooted in social issues, she was very supportive of the club when she was approached with the idea.
“Carmen was my student in AP Seminar last year, and one of the things we get to do in that class is explore issues of social justice. Carmen came to me at that time with that time with a really cool idea where we could talk about those issues, and I said that yes we need to do that,” Krzeminski said.
Senior Eliana Dias also has a big role on the club board. By taking the same AP Seminar class, she saw some of the same ideas that could be brought to the club.
“My dream for this club would be to touch people. Change begins with the youth, and when we utilize our voices together as one I strongly believe we can make a difference. In high school it is so easy to become a bystander, and follow the path that the rest of your class may be going through.”
— senior Eliana Dias
“We were challenged with the idea of thinking in the grey. The concept is trying to advocate thinking beyond just your own perspective and instead focus on being open to new subjects and ideas in order to form a new conclusion integrating both sides. It is ultimately what inspired us to try to apply this to everyday life,” Dias said.
The club’s mission statement is “We provide an educational & welcoming platform for anyone to share their stories, showing us that through our many differences, we are one,” but hopes to do many different things, such as mini-projects and service activities to show how they can be involved with different social issues.
“[The goal] is probably to become allies for others. Issues of social justice for example, the Black Lives Matter movement, we can support that, but then not only support that. If we want to support our LGBTQ community, we can be allies in that too,” Krzeminski said.
Some of the other big things the club will be doing is selling bracelets, designing club pins, and hosting potential guest speakers. There also are different events outside of the school the club will also try to attend, such as a trip to the American Writers’ Museum.
“My dream for this club would be to touch people. Change begins with the youth, and when we utilize our voices together as one I strongly believe we can make a difference. In high school it is so easy to become a bystander, and follow the path that the rest of your class may be going through,” Dias said.
She added that through personal experiences she learned that one can never become fully satisfied when just working for others.
Junior Isaac Evans stated how it’s an important goal at club meetings to share stories. He added that it is equally important when people can see both sides of people’s situations and problems they may have.
“I just want to see increased cultural representation, people showing who they really are, and just people in this school being able to see that,” Evans said.
There were multiple students at the club’s first meeting, but there is always an opportunity for more students to join and take part in the club’s future.
“People should join because it’s a selfless club. Giving back is just going to make you feel so rewarded and doing things for others. I think it’s good for people who don’t understand about the diversity with other cultures and people,” Art teacher and co-sponsor Heather Stanich said.
Once students attend the meetings, they have a chance to experience a different view on issues around the world that they may or may not be involved in.
“I think students will have a different perspective after leaving the club. Students might think they know what this is all about, but they really won’t until they experience it,” Spanish teacher and co-sponsor Paisley Suarez said.
If students leave the club satisfied with what they’ve learned and done, then they really meet the name “Upstander.” Standing up for what students believe is right is something that can be an inspiration from the club.
“Once you’re able to realize yourself what is right, the feeling of true satisfaction occurs, in the fact that you’re directing for yourself. I hope that we can inspire people to want to stand for equality, and what they believe is right in society,” Dias said.
The club will meet again on Friday, September 28th, after school in room F133.