Cameron Myers, Keegan Tenney
Safe spaces are something that everyone needs and that every school should have. Creating a culture of acceptance and genuine interest in learning about other people and where they come from is the foundation for building this kind of environment. One thing that many of us take for granted is that this begins with us: the student body is much larger than the staff, and we interact with more people throughout the day. It is not the school, but us as students within it, that has the greatest potential to make the school a better place.
School in general is very stressful, and safe spaces are crucial because it is important for someone to be able to be themselves, regardless of their gender, race, or sexuality. For the most part, the school has already done the groundwork for creating safe spaces and making them accessible for students by creating a variety of different clubs, groups, and organizations that all different groups of students can be a part of, and there are opportunities to find people similar to you in a lot of ways. From Empowered Club to Anime Club to GSA and the 23 other clubs inbetween, the school continuously tries and is open to many different solutions to the “barriers” that divide the school. Individual teachers also do their part by going the extra mile to show their support, whether it is through a sticker on their classroom window, a bumper sticker on their car, or through caring conversations with students. Nothing will ever be perfect: there will always be bullies at school, and no amount of clubs -or things the school can do- will change that. This is where we come in: it ultimately falls on the students to be decent human beings and include everyone.
PNHS has no shortage of diversity, and we’re becoming a more diverse learning community every year. Due to prejudice and stereotypes, more representation can create division among people. While that might be the reality in the world, it’s our responsibility to make sure that it’s not the reality within the walls of NHS. Everyone deserves to feel safe at their own school, and even with all of our opportunities to be included, there are still people who feel they don’t belong. We have the safe spaces in the form of clubs, groups, and classrooms, but now we need to work together to make every space safe, and this starts with students.
In order to make a better environment, we need to intentionally expose ourselves to and interact with different kinds and groups of students, especially those who are the most different from ourselves. We might be unlike each other in many ways, but we’re all people, and we’re all Huskies, and those commonalities outweigh any differences that we might have. Spending time with each other will help us have a better understanding and ability to accept each other. If that’s too far out of your comfort zone, start simply with kindness and inclusion. Say hi when you don’t have to. When you see someone who is alone when everyone else is in a group, go talk to them. In a school of 1300 plus students, there’s no reason anybody should feel alone.
There are some thing that the school can continue to do, too.While the Black History Month assembly is a start, there needs to be other opportunities for other groups to let their voices be heard and their culture and diversity celebrated. We could celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, Autism Awareness Month, or the Chinese New Year, just to name a few. We do a lot to bring us together in school spirit, and that’s important, but at the same time not everyone’s the same, and that is okay. Once we start accepting that and celebrating and valuing our differences, we will be able to see how those differences make Huskie country even richer, and everyone will become more comfortable with themselves and school will be a happier place to be for everyone.
As students, we can shift the culture of the school to feel more safer very simply. Since so many of us are on social media, we could stop or slow the spread of untrue rumors and malicious statements by assessing information before we believe or spread it. We can choose not to like posts that are unkind and hurtful to others. We can be more aware of the things we post and how they might impact others. It’s easy to repost, retweet, and comment; if we could make it that easy to be kind to one another, we would be taking an important step in the right direction.