Extracurriculars offer welcoming communities for minority students

Bella Geroulis

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When one thinks of New Trier, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is not it’s vastly
diverse student body. The minorities at New Trier can often be overlooked, but that doesn’t mean that
they’re not there.
Korean club meets every Monday after school, and to Sophomore Zack Lim, the club is more than just an after school activity.
“You don’t see many Koreans walking around the school,” Kim states, “So it’s nice to come to the club and socialize with people of my culture.”
Kim went on to say that he’s not treated any differently by teachers or students for his ethnicity or race, and that New Trier is “a very open
place.”
Senior Michelle Vasiliadis, who meets with Hellenic Club once a week, agrees with Kim.
She says that because it’s a club of people who share the same background, it’s “a very comfortable
environment to be in.”
Kim and Vasiliadis are among many of the students at New Trier who identify as a minority who
believe that New Trier is a welcoming and inclusive place. However, minorities aren’t just limited to race or
ethnicity. Kay Pothast teaches students with mental and physical disabilities, and makes a point of
treating her students the same as everyone else. In regard to the way other teachers work with students
with disabilities, Pothast says “sometimes teachers just simply don’t know what to do, but once they learn, they don’t treat them any differently.”
Pothast and the administration make a point of making New Trier as inclusive as possible.
Just like students with disabilities, the LGBTQ community is a group of students who may feel somewhat isolated from the majority of students. Though treated well among most teachers, some students who identify as LGBTQ face difficulties among their peers. A student from the Junior class who identifies as queer says that “although there are some teachers who treat LGBTQ students differently, most are really kind and compassionate.”
The student says she only ever faced a conflict with another student once, but for the most part everyone is tolerant of her sexual orientation.
With a school as big as New Trier, it’s expected that nearly every culture, race, and sexual orientation is represented.
But it’s not enough to just address that there are minorities present. While the school makes every effort to make everyone feel comfortable.
The unfortunate truth is that the outside world isn’t always as inclusive and welcoming as New
Trier is. Still in 2016, the problems that systemic racism and homophobia have set up still impact the lives
of millions across the country. While the privileges that come with attending New Trier High School aid everyone, it’s hard to tell if those privileges will be enough to break down all of the systemic issues that
our country faces.
An African American student who talked on the condition of anonymity from the Sophomore class worries about his future outside of New Trier. While he’s never faced major problems at school in the past, he says “It’s scary to think of what the outside world is like. The North Shore is sort of cut off from the rest of Chicago and even the world, so I know it’s not always going to be like this.”
While we as Trevians make every effort to make these four years as welcoming as possible for
every student and staff member, it is also our duty to leave this school with the lessons we’ve learned here.
The ideas of equality and tolerance for everyone are not just ideas that are nice to remember every now and then, but they are traits that should be ingrained in our society