Connections Cultivate Character

Connections Cultivate Character

Clubs and affinity groups offer Wellington students an important opportunity to connect with their peers, teachers, and the world around them while at the same time developing a voice that is distinctly their own. The experience of embracing differences and discovering commonalities within a variety of communities, both small and large, is crucial for personal growth as students also explore their unique talents and interests. This spring, when students and faculty advisors could not meet in person, they found new ways to come together as one.

In middle school, A Foot in Two Places celebrates cultural diversity and identity by providing a safe space for people of two or more different cultures to speak openly about both similarities and differences with people in other communities.

“For AF2P, cultural diversity is more than race and religion,” explains Brenda Porter P ’12 ’17, club co-advisor and middle school administrative assistant. “It also includes the diversity spectrum of ethnicity, family structure, socio economic backgrounds, experiences, and more. It is our hope that by addressing and dispelling stereotypes and by providing empathy tools, students learn to appreciate their own culture as well as the cultures of the global community.”

Under the guidance of Porter and the club’s other advisors, fellow middle school teachers Cheryl Allen and Victoria Pang, students meet regularly for activities like Cultural Jeopardy, Identity Bingo, and Identity Bracelets. The group has also hosted speakers and introduced students to ethnic foods. To introduce the group to Ramadan, an Eid party hosted by the Djafi family had been planned for the last meeting of the school year but unfortunately could not take place because of COVID-19. However, AF2P has continued to meet for informal group discussions and conversations. They even managed to produce a video culmination of their discussions related to stereotypes and identity.

The Middle School Gay Straight Alliance is designed to support the LGBT+ community at Wellington, encourage inclusivity/anti-bullying, and make students aware of events and advocacy opportunities. Advisors Matt Webber, middle school science teacher, and Victoria Pang have been creative in re-envisioning the club’s activities, like a recent film screening of “Love, Simon.” Pang says they hosted the event over Zoom and “watched the film in real time, with snacks, and chatted about who we thought the mystery guy was in the movie and, more seriously, about representation in Hollywood. It was a lot of fun.”

Wellington clubs can also follow more scholarly or literary pursuits. The College Counseling Club in upper school was founded 25 years ago with the mission for its members to serve as peer resources and partners with the college counseling team in the college process. According to Director of College Counseling Stuart Oremus P ’00, the group hosts a guest speaker series, welcoming presenters from around the country who address a broad range of topics in an informal lunch setting. Members participate in a sample campus visit trip, help to host visiting college representatives, and create and publicize a variety of opportunities for the benefit of the community. Several members of the College Counseling Group hold positions of service and leadership in two other school organizations, the Junior Leadership Committee, or JLC, and the Senior Leadership Council, or SLC. 

It has been said Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays during the plague, so there’s no reason why Learning from Home should prevent the Literary Magazine group from publishing their Spring 2020 issue. Titled “Legacy,” the publication features poetry, short stories, essays, and artwork from middle school students. During regular meetings throughout the school year, both before and after COVID-19, students worked with advisor and middle school language arts teacher Marianne Crowley to determine the focus of the publication and also who would be responsible for what parts. 

“Students shared what they were working on – advertising, speaking with teachers, talking with friends who had written something good,” Crowley says, “The group reviewed any submissions and voted to accept it, recommend revision work, or reject it. I’m so proud of the students who have been working on it. All the credit goes to them. ”