Sanaalee Troupe, 11th grade, and Zamiya Jean, 12th grade, have Co-founded the first Black Student Union at The Waldorf School of Garden City. Driven by a passion for educating and uniting the students of color at Waldorf, Zamiya and Sanaa have created what they hope will be a safe place for students to express themselves.
In light of the Black Lives Matter movement and recent civil rights protests around the country, Chelsea Rissner, former Counselor at The WSGC, hosted Zoom meetings for students to discuss how the current social and political climate had been affecting them.
“We [discussed] how we felt about certain issues that were going forth in the media and how it was affecting us as students if it was affecting our workload, our mental health, these sort of things… This was very useful because we were getting that burden off of our shoulders.” shared Sanaa. These Zoom meetings were a much welcomed and necessary opportunity for the students to feel heard in a way they hadn’t experienced yet at school. This is the first club at The WSGC to focus on racial or cultural issues and identity. “We never really had a structured environment where we could talk about certain issues affecting us. Especially when it came to recent protests after George Floyd and social movements.” Explained Zamiya, adding, “We knew it couldn’t just end there.”
Zamiya and Sanaa, friends for nearly two years since performing in the high school musical together, were the only two students who attended every Zoom session and felt they would make a great team as Co-Founders of a Black Student Union. They have asked The Waldorf School of Garden City’s Interim Administrator, Nicole Littrean, to be their advisor. Both students recognized Ms. Littrean’s passion for social issues as a member of the DEIJ committee. This club aims to aid in the necessary progression and evolution of WSGC’s cultural and racial perspective; therefore, it requires a strong advisor to guide the process.
“My wish for the group is for each one of them to find their voice through the chaos, irrational thinking, and racist rhetoric. For them to be empowered to be free thinkers that have the phenomenal capability to change the world.” Ms. Littrean shared.
While the Black Student Union will focus mainly on Black issues, they will also offer opportunities to discuss issues that affect all people of color. The Co-Founders emphasized that all are welcome to join the club. As a group, one of their goals is to implement changes to the current Main Lesson blocks and increase the representation of black scientists, poets, and writers in history lessons to create a more inclusive curriculum. Along with curriculum changes, other club initiatives include: organizing cultural events, planning an International Day to celebrate various cultures in the School, and giving students a platform to discuss racially sensitive topics with the administration and faculty. Zamiya and Sanaa also plan to emphasize the importance of Mental Health, especially in the Black community. They hope to break the mental health stigma ingrained within the Black community that “makes many Black citizens feel as if mental health is a false narrative and only affects the rich.”
A personal goal for Zamiya is to educate her peers about opportunities such as internships, jobs, summer programs, and scholarships available for students of color. She stated emphatically, “It’s my mission and my duty especially being the leader of this club, to educate them about that. People are missing out on opportunities that could really help them in the future.”
The Waldorf School of Garden City is extremely proud of Sanaa and Zamiya’s efforts. We will embrace and support them as we continue to evolve as a conscientious and inclusive community.
See below for the Black Student mission statement and the link to The WSGC DEI Committee page to learn more about our School’s commitment to diversity.
Black Student Union Mission
The Mission of the Black Student Union is to uplift and empower the Black community at Waldorf School of Garden City, while actively working to make our school a more inclusive and understanding place. We want this group to be a driving force in the progression of our school. Additionally, we want the conversations and information from our weekly meetings to spark initiative in the school and outside environments. Lastly, We want to advocate for racial equality by ensuring all groups are represented and are on an equal playing field.