Diversity at NPHS: How We Are Making a Change

Christine Benites, staff writer

In the start of the new school year, a group of senior students decided to run New Providence High School’s first ever Diversity Club. This new club has partnered with the New Providence Diversity Committee, with the goal of educating others and spreading cultural awareness in our town.

The President of the Diversity Club is Senior Allie Cohen. Other members include VP of Programming Eesha Patel, VP of Publicity Genesis Ramirez, VP of Recruitment Manu Nahata, VP of Finance Elizabeth Blank, and administrative advisor Ms. DeNicola (Department Head of Language). There are already around 40 members.

The commencement of this club started with Cohen’s main concern about diversity in the town and school. She reached out to the New Providence Diversity Committee, which she ended up joining. They have been one of the club’s biggest supporters in starting this club.

Cohen says, “It’s great to have support at any level, but especially to have adults with deep roots, connections, and communication to the Board of Education and town.”

Each officer has expressed their interest in informing club members and the community of their own cultural backgrounds to help spread awareness of different cultures so students can feel more inclusive in our town/school environment.

When asked why she decided to start this club, Cohen said “Many people have a lack of understanding of certain faiths and cultures. People have made snotty comments, and I want to be able to educate people.”

Ramirez, VP of Publicity also said she wanted to join for similar reasons. Ramirez even shared her personal experience, “I remember one specific instance in my APUSH class last year. We were watching a presentation about immigration and border control. Listening to the response of others made me realize that they were uneducated and haven’t experienced, or been exposed to other perspectives on this topic.”

Another one of the club’s main objectives is to eventually change the school’s curriculum, especially in our history classes, to be more inclusive about minority groups.

Ramirez continues by saying, “It is not the school’s fault. But sometimes, personal experiences have a bigger impact on others because they are real and more natural, not just stories in our textbooks.”

If individuals are given the ability to share their own stories, we can better understand each other and our own culture, for everyone to feel included.

Cohen says, “A lot goes into changing the curriculum. We know this isn’t something that can be accomplished by the end of year, so we hope to establish the club so that over time we can work together with the school on changing the curriculum over the years.”

Though the Diversity Club is new, the club officers have been promoting it on the school’s TV’s, making posters and flyers, but their biggest way to promote it has been through social media, on their Instagram (@nphsdiversityclub)

Although the COVID-19 Pandemic has put restrictions on many activities the club can host, that isn’t stopping them. The NP Diversity Committee is hosting a National Hispanic Heritage Month Panel and is even having Miss El Salvador on the Zoom call to talk about her experiences and how to help spread different cultural awareness.

In addition, each member is given the opportunity to share a presentation about their own cultures if they wish, and Ramirez will be presenting her own presentation about her Hispanic heritage.

Another aspect that makes this club unique is that it’s open to New Providence UCVTS students if they want to join too. Ramirez says, “We don’t know what their situation is like at their school, so we feel it is important that everyone has a space to share their stories and feel more inclusive in our cultures, being that they are also residents of New Providence.”

So many people are interested in this club and the best part is that everyone involved is an active participant. This club isn’t just something you join to put on your college application. Cohen says, “Everyone that has joined wants to make a difference in our community and learn from and educate others about different cultures.”

Ms. DeNicola Department Head of Language, is the administrative advisor of the club and is a huge support to the club. DeNicola moved to the U.S. 7 years ago and was born and raised in Italy. She explained it was very difficult coming from another country and another culture, making it very hard to adapt.

DeNicola says, “I know what it is like to feel out of place. I want to help as the advisor especially because of my personal experience with diversity. My goal is to share ideas and educate others about her own culture. I think it’s amazing that we are given the opportunity to share in this club.”

DeNicola, who has had her own long standing concerns about how to address the lack of diversity at NPHS, said, “What I want students to take away from this club is to be who you are. To not be ashamed of where you come from and your true self. To feel most comfortable and welcomed in our school environment.” As the advisor, she says her main role is to support the students and is more than happy to support the club.

This new Diversity Club is a very welcoming space to share and educate others. Even if you don’t want to share personal stories, the club is always looking for new members; anyone and everyone is welcome.