New Clubs Offer Opportunities for Student Input

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Ms. Closson

The BSU works hard during a meeting in the Learning Commons. The club formed in 2018 as a safe space for African American students.

Padua’s mission of sisterhood takes on a new meaning this year with the creation of three new student input clubs: the Alliance, Big Sister Little Sister Board, and PANDAmonium. While each club focuses on a different aspect of sisterhood, all three provide opportunities for more student involvement, inclusion, and input within the school community.

The Alliance

Mrs. Vavala, an Alliance moderator, explained that the club uniquely groups three former culture clubs— the Black Student Union (B.S.U.), La Mezcla, and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness (I.D.E.A.) club— into one.

“We thought all of these groups are working on the same general issues, so let’s make an umbrella group and have three separate groups within that umbrella group,” she said. “So that’s how we came up with the Alliance.”

While the Black Student Union and La Mezcla celebrate two different identities of culture and diversity, Vavala expressed that students also face issues that can be discussed as a larger group with members of I.D.E.A and allies. She discussed that there is a danger in the school’s Caucasian majority thinking that “our reality is everybody’s reality.”

I.D.E.A student leader Amneris Romero-Martinez described the Alliance as a safe place for students to speak about their experiences as the minority.

“I think it allows for conversation to start, whether you’re in the club or not, about the problems that we have in our school community and local community and our world as a whole,” she said.

B.S.U member Nadine Akumiah commented about the close connection between members due to their shared identity.

The Alliance poses for a picture on the front steps of the school. The umbrella group was created in September 2021. (Mrs. Bell)

“Being a Black woman is already a sisterhood in general,” she said, “so I feel like we’re just so much clos[er] when it comes to B.S.U., because it’s not only just that you’re a Black girl, but you’re a Black girl that goes to Padua.”

Aniyah Springer, another member of the club, explained that while the Black Student Union aims to provide a welcoming environment for Black students, the club is open to anyone of any race.

“Join it with a very open mind,” she said, “If one of my friends that isn’t African American joined B.S.U. I’d develop another sense of respect towards them because they want to understand me.”

The Alliance club consists of not only racial diversity, but students of different grade levels as well. Vavala accredits this decision to the idea that there is “no particular brain level that it’s appropriate for or not appropriate for” in reference to discussion about inclusion and equality.

Vavala stressed the importance of being called to care about one another as Catholics, explaining that inclusion and sisterhood are vital to a Catholic school.

“There are people in this building who have a different reality and I would love to be with them, and walk alongside them, and learn from them,” she said.

PANDAmonium

The PANDAmonium club was created to support the athletic program following the lift of the almost two-year fan ban at school sport events due to COVID. Athletic director Ms. Disabatino said that the club started with the idea “to try to bring back school spirit” with student input.

“We thought that it would be a really cool idea to try to incorporate the ins and outs of the athletic department with our students so that they could see what it was like to promote sports and game day,” she said.

It’s the craziness of sports, but also the love of it and the love for sportsmanship, and sisterhood and how to hold that all together.”

— Ms. Disabatino

Within the club, three different departments tackle PANDAmonium activities: the game day department, the social media department, and the initiatives department. Anna Rose Ahearn, a member of the social media department, stressed the importance of advertising upcoming games in order to have a larger support system for the players.

“We need the most school spirit we can get to have good vibes for games” Ahearn said. “If you’re playing in the game [and] there’s not a huge crowd of people with Padua, you’re not gonna feel very hyped. So, within PANDAmonium we try to have the most school spirit and support all the teams as much as we can.”

To keep school spirit alive through the winter sports season, Ahearn mentioned that “there’s something exciting in the works for social media.”

While the PANDAmonium club currently involves only school sports activities and events, Disabatino has bigger plans for its future.

“Our idea [is to] try to support all of our sisters because it’s PANDAmonium…,” she said. ”It’s our hope that we can support everybody and everything that they’re doing.”

Big Sister Little Sister Board

The Big Sister Little Sister board consists of a small group of seniors who help plan and organize Big Sister Little Sister (B.S.L.S.) events and activities.

Board member Regina Smith described the club as the “perfect opportunity to get involved and contribute to the B.S.L.S. program.”

Sister pair McKenna Geary and Abigail Newcomb decorate Christmas ornaments during a Big Sister Little Sister holiday event. Seniors are paired with freshmen as a part of the B.S.L.S. program.

“All the girls in the group are really good at listening to each other’s ideas, so the contribution I make is just as impactful as the other girls, and combined we come up with some great ideas.” she said.

Smith looks forward to seeing the board’s impact on the future of the BSLS program. She said that the program’s events present an opportunity for the freshmen to “see a friendly face who they can turn to for help” on a regular basis.

​​”This club allows for the freshmen and seniors to get together, talk, and bond,” Smith said. “Without this club, the communication between freshmen and seniors would be little to none. This allows for us to talk and get to know more people.”

Sisterhood and Student Input

As one of the school’s four pillars, sisterhood plays a key role in the values of each club at Padua. However, the Alliance, Big Sister Little Sister Board, and PANDAmonium were formed during the coronavirus pandemic, where a national disconnect can be seen between others due to social distancing, mask wearing, and quarantining.

Romero-Martinez noted that she values the sense of sisterhood provided by the Alliance’s welcoming and open environment for people of color.

“Being able to be in spaces with people that are similar to you is really important to build those connections that we need as people,” she said.

Ahearn described the PANDAmonium spirit groups as “​​a big group of Padua people supporting the Padua people who are playing.” She said that her family can be found right here in the Box of Love.

“I don’t have any siblings so all my friends at Padua are all just [so] close to me and it makes me happy.” she said.

According to Smith, the friendships formed at an all-girls school cannot be matched.

“Whether it’s schoolwork, or sports, or social events, your friends are always there for you,” she said, “and sometimes you are lucky enough to find a sister in a friend.”