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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Student-led clubs foster cultural diversity

%28from+left+to+right%29%0ASenior+Amy+Desroches+%28president+of+the+BSU%29%2C+freshman+Aniah+Desroches%2C+and+Junior+Na%C3%AFelle+Jean-Charles+at+a+Black+Student+Union+meeting.+Clubs+like+the+BSU+have+helped+foster+a+sense+of+belonging.
photo by Levi Cal Rivera
(from left to right) Senior Amy Desroches (president of the BSU), freshman Aniah Desroches, and Junior Naïelle Jean-Charles at a Black Student Union meeting. Clubs like the BSU have helped foster a sense of belonging.

In an effort to promote cultural acceptance on campus, several new student-led clubs were established last year under the direction of assistant principal Reggie Miller, including the Black Student Union, Hispanic Student Union, Jewish Student Union, and Muslim Student Association, complementing the existing Asian Culture Club.

Many students have already experienced the positive impact of these clubs. Junior Naïelle Jean-Charles, a member of the Black Student Union enjoys having other students to share her experiences with.

“Black Student Union is an amazing club filled with so many wonderful and brilliant people. Being around so many people who understand me or are willing to understand me is such an amazing feeling,” Jean-Charles said.

These clubs were featured in the School Improvement Plan, emphasizing the school’s commitment to fostering a culture where student voice and a sense of belonging are highly prized. To achieve this goal, the plan outlined various benchmarks, such as “implicit bias training” and “True Colors activities” for Hagerty’s staff. Assistant Principal Reginald Miller Jr., the Student Diversity Coordinator, has pushed for more diversity and inclusion at Hagerty.

Black Student Union is an amazing club filled with so many wonderful and brilliant people. Being around so many people who understand me or are willing to understand me is such an amazing feeling.

— Naïelle Jean-Charles, 11

“Well, [as the Student Diversity Coordinator], I have moved in the capacity of making sure that here at Hagerty high school we recognize and we celebrate diversity and inclusion throughout the year,” Miller stated, “[and] we have now created avenues for being able to reach out to our community.”

While not directly tied to the cultural club initiative, the Interclub Council was established to help all clubs communicate and better work together on school projects, with monthly meetings aimed at giving students a platform to address schoolwide issues and initiatives. A major objective is to encourage the formation of more student-led groups that celebrate diversity, including a Multi-Cultural Club.

And the interclub council seems to be doing what it intended. Senior Amy Desroches, president of the Black Student Union, found her voice in the club rather easily. 

“During the meeting in small groups we [had lots of organized discussion],” Desroches stated. “I was thankful we were able to share our opinions before the leadership board made decisions.”

Sofia Fuentes, the president of the Hispanic Student Union, aims to create an environment where students’ opinions are heard and where they can connect with their culture during meetings. 

“The officers and I would like to spread [Hispanic] history at every meeting,” Fuentes said.

And her goal is working. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month occurred. Students could observe signs displaying flags of Hispanic countries on campus, along with informative announcements highlighting important figures and history. The Hispanic Student Union worked in tandem with the well-established Spanish Honor Society to bring announcements in the morning. 

“I think the announcements were an easy way to lessen ignorance about why we have Hispanic Heritage Month,” said senior Jasmine Ruiz, secretary of the HSU. “Especially for people of Hispanic heritage, the announcements helped us be more proud of who we are.”

We definitely have made [many] strides to create avenues for communication and opportunities and being able to provide a lot of options [for students].

— Reginald Miller Jr., Asst. Principal

This initiative is part of the school’s broader effort to acknowledge and appreciate diverse cultures. Similar events are planned for Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, and Asian/Pacific Islanders Month in May.

Acknowledging and celebrating cultures is something that the Asian Culture Club has been doing for a while. Nicole Chmilnitzky, the president of the Asian Culture Club, mentions their efforts in creating inclusive spaces.

“In the past, and we are doing this again this year, we have done a winter ball which we get together with a bunch of other student associations around [the Orlando area], and we have a big party and it’s super fun because we get to be surrounded by people in our community that support us and are part of the same culture,” Chmilnitzky said.

By linking Hagerty High School’s active community engagement programs, it is clear that the institution is committed to promoting inclusivity and togetherness outside of its campus. This philosophy enhances the educational experience for students while also aligning with Hagerty High School’s overarching goal of being a vibrant center for holistic development and cultural enrichment. Miller further reiterates this point.

“We definitely have made [many] strides to create avenues for communication and opportunities and being able to provide a lot of options [for students],” said Miller, “be it entertainment, information, informational, or just truly entertainment as it relates to diversity and inclusion here at Hagerty High School.”

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About the Contributors
Jolin Alcindor
Jolin Alcindor, Staff Reporter
Jolin Alcindor is a sophmore this year and this is his first year on staff. He is involved with the French Honor Society as a Social Media Manager, the Black Student Union as an event manager, and is further involved with the Debate Team and Theatre.
Levi Cal Rivera
Levi Cal Rivera, Staff Photographer
Levi Cal-Rivera is a senior at Hagerty High School and it's his second year on staff. As Photo Editor, Levi have a passion for photography and photo journalism, he can often be seen wandering the campus with a camera. Under the instruction/judging of Tampa Bay Buccaneer photographer Mike Carlson, Levi won 1st place in Advanced Photography.
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