Glenbard West High School goes beyond academics to encourage diversity

Glenbard West High School is putting in place ways to be more racially inclusive in order to be a diverse and welcoming school.

In addition to being aware of other people’s words or actions, Madame Callicoat, a French teacher at Glenbard West, says to be “aware of yourself.”

When it comes to sensitive topics like race, it’s important to ask yourself questions.

Callicoat delineated a few of them to consider: “do I have racial hang-ups? Am I perpetuating a stereotype? Am I being culturally sensitive?”

Regarding the recent Black Lives Matter protests, there have been so many feelings, including anger in the air. More people are talking about race.

Kimberly Gwizdala, an English teacher, says “there’s a much larger awareness, or desire, by young people to engage in conversations with race.”

Gwizdala does not “want to generalize,” claiming “there’s this push from young people [to discuss race], but a discomfort and uncertainty” from older generations to do the same “that [may] result in [change] that is not as quick or immediate as young people would want it to be.”

“I have seen changes. I have seen it from a curricular standpoint: the books that we are bringing into the English classes have a much broader perspective of what it means to be a human,” Gwizdala says.

Both Ms. Gwizdala and Madame Callicoat mentioned that Glenbard West has bought books, held staff conversations and discussions on these books, and ensured accessibility to school clubs/activities to increase diversity.

MJ Dillon, a West senior and activist, is known for speaking out and organizing protests at Glenbard West in regards to BLM, protecting the student body, and making GBW a safer and more welcoming place for students.

She says “as students, we are still quite sheltered in comparison to adults. Seeing the protests and the cries for equality and equity shows students, typically those who never paid attention to the news, how the world works.”

Both students and staff at Glenbard West are opening their eyes to the real world and working to create a better environment for everyone.

Dillon says “we are at an age where we feel invincible, like we can change the world.”

She discussed “new measures being taken” at West “such as the equity committee that was just created, along with [attempts] to implement [a] resolution.”

Dillon says “just because something doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

Umar Ajmeri, another senior at West, says that he has “never dealt with racism at our school, but [has] definitely heard and seen other kids at school get racially profiled.”

Umar suggests that “our school is trying to encourage diversity, but it could definitely do a lot better. It can start by announcing all holidays for all religions and educate people on different types of activities it could have for each holiday.”

He asks “if America stands for ‘all the people,’ why not celebrate all the happy festivities together?”

Glenbard West as a whole is working outside of academics to encourage diversity and make the environment a safe and welcoming place for everyone.