The Masters School’s mission — “to be a power for good in the world” — was alive and well this week as the Middle School’s student leadership groups kicked off the year with virtual meetings on Zoom.
The five student-led clubs each focus on topics that fall under the School’s mission: community service (MISH); diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); the environment (EFFECT); gender and sexuality (GSA); and student government (Student Leadership Board).
The groups, which are optional and open to all middle school students, held their first meetings on Tuesday, September 22. In an email sent to students on Monday, September 21, Associate Head of Middle School Lynn Salehi encouraged all students to explore the various groups and find one that might be a good fit for them.
The Student Leadership Board (SLB)’s priority is to gather and represent students’ ideas and opinions in an effort to create positive changes on campus. During their first meeting, they discussed a variety of possible ideas to bring to administrators, ranging from adding more gender neutral/all gender bathrooms on campus to offering a wider variety of snacks that cater to food allergies and preferences. Co-chair Ally Tarter ’25, who joined the board this year, said that she joined SLB because “throughout my Masters experience, I have been taught to consistently stand up and fight for change.” Her fellow co-chair, Matthew Hantgan ’25, noted that any students who have suggestions or ideas for improvements the Middle School can make should reach out to him and Ally.
Anna Ruiz ’25, who co-chairs the DEI group, said that she decided to join the club last year as a seventh grader because she feels connected to the School’s mission and felt that joining the DEI group was a way to “be a part of the continuous growth of our school community.” During their first meeting, group members introduced themselves; shared facts about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the recently deceased Supreme Court justice; and watched a video created by the company Apple that showcases and celebrates the importance of diversity. “We want the Diversity Equity and Inclusion club to be a place of comfort and unconditional support,” the eighth grader explained. The students also started making plans — both virtual and in-person — for the year. Ruiz noted that the group will be focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement and the School’s anti-racism and anti-bias plan for an inclusive community. “We know that the conversations we will have this year will be hard, but they are so important,” she said.
Jordan Lee ’25 and Taylor Marlowe ’25 have both been members of MISH since joining Masters in sixth grade. “I thought it would be a great way to help out people less fortunate than me, but it was also a good way to meet new people,” Marlowe said. Lee, too, was inspired to join because, as she explained, “I knew I wanted to join a club in addition to regular school, so I chose MISH because I agreed with what they were trying to do as a club.” This year, the MISH group will place a heavy emphasis on supporting families impacted by the coronavirus. During their initial meeting, students participated in icebreakers, discussed various organizations that they would like to support, and considered different fundraising initiatives they might plan.
In addition to the good work that these groups are focused on doing this school year, they are providing students with the opportunity to explore their interests while connecting with like-minded peers. For example, Rebecca Troy ’25, who co-leads EFFECT along with Matthew Vanwright ’25, is passionate about science. She shared that she “recently started to learn about how different sciences are applicable to real-world issues, such as climate change. I figured that joining EFFECT would be a great way to express that.” Vanwright, who, like Troy, joined EFFECT this year, said that he has wanted to get involved “ever since I discovered how easy it was to save energy, and therefore save the planet.” In an effort to inform and educate their fellow middle school students on important and relevant topics related to the environment, they are considering bake sales, games, composting and group discussions. “I think that our EFFECT is going to be very promising this year,” Vanwright said.
There are many unknowns about what the school year may look like due to COVID-19. And yet, many of the club leaders expressed a similar sentiment about the future: Although their initiatives may look a bit different this year, they are committed to making a positive impact in their respective areas.