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BBSU Brings Student Events, Activities

BBSU leaders Zharia Clausell and Andrea Avena oversee a game at the Middle School / High School Black History Month Performance, February 28th

WISH Academy—Introduced earlier this year, the Black & Brown Student Union (BBSU) has hosted a variety of events embracing black culture. Founded by President Zharia Clausell and Vice President Andrea Avena, the club has organized a number of events during Black History Month including a potluck, spirit week, and pep rally. The goal of their club is to “provide a safe and supportive space for Black & Brown students of all ethnic backgrounds on campus…” and to “promote cultural awareness and education.”

Founding members Zharia and Andrea started the club because they felt “the school has a lack of representation and activities and incentives that represent black and brown culture on campus.” They were inspired by WISH’s co-located school Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets’ own BBSU and their intent to “bring a supportive space for Black & Brown students of all ethnic backgrounds on campus.” Since the club’s creation at the beginning of the year, the leaders had intentions to host several events throughout the year, most in February for the annual Black History month. Many of these events have been a success for their first running, and Zharia remarks that they have learned a lot about the process of creating events. They hope that the club can learn from first year challenges to improve their offerings of representation for years to come.

Hosted by BBSU, the Black History Month (BHM) Performance, held on February 28th, was a large production led by club leadership Zharia and Andrea, theater teacher Ms. Landon, Principal Dr. Johnson, and Yamilet Ramirez, that brought together both WISH Middle and WISH Academy students. The production included performances from both the High School & Middle school. Students from WISH Middle school shared powerful poems and messages with students. Additionally, WISH Middle displayed a Step-dancing presentation. Stepping, sometimes referred to as “step-dancing” or “soulstepping,” is a form of percussive dance in African American culture originating from the 1700s that utilizes a mixture of clapping, footsteps, and other body motions to produce complex rhythms. A team of six middle school students, led by Ms. Doneshia performed an original step routine to the two schools.

WISH Academy theater students read poetry at the Black History Month Performance.

On the high school side, BBSU hosted several games for students to participate in, including the wildly competitive “Head, Shoulders, Knees, Cup” that pitted students and teachers against one another. The presentation also featured coordinated dance performances from WISH Academy’s K-Pop Dance Club. K-Pop groups, most notably global phenomenons BTS and BLACKPINK, are known for taking heavy inspiration from hip-hop to produce their tracks, incorporating rapping and graffiti-like visuals. To end off the event, WISH Academy’s VAPA program performed “The Hill We Climb” from President Biden’s inauguration by Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate and youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. The atmosphere was electric as the combined student bodies of WISH Middle and WISH Academy cheered throughout the event and participated in the awesome activities.

Just a day after the performance, BBSU came back with another awesome event: the Black History Month Potluck. The potluck, held February 29th, was a huge success with the support of English teachers Ms. Phillips and the community donated dishes. As the lines for the food went down the majority of the entire K building, staff and BBSU (with the support of ASB) served traditional cultural dishes like collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and more. When asked about the event, many people said they enjoyed all of the different food that others brought to the potluck. Those in attendance enjoyed the sheer variety of dishes offered with the donations of both homemade dishes and premade items with significance, like peach cobbler. Despite the offerings spanning five tables, all of it ran out quickly, showing the excitement over the food as a great conclusion to the festivities of the month.

The Black & Brown Student Union (BBSU) meets in K3 during Lunch on Thursdays and Fridays.

In the midst of the BHM festivities, BBSU also hosted a spirit week consisting of themed days like Historically black colleges and Universities (HBCU) Gear Day, Throwback Thursday (‘70s-’90s), and more. Club president Zharia said that she felt “joyful” that BBSU’s events have been well received throughout the year despite this being their first year of operation. Their first round of events taught the club that “it does take a large team [and each member] needs to contribute,” as the leadership team reflected. Despite their work, they aren’t quite yet done for the year. Ahead of WISH Academy’s Masquerade Prom this weekend, BBSU has released another spirit week to excite students for a fun weekend. This club has had an undeniable impact in increasing cultural awareness, with the promise of more excitement to come in the future.

~ Nathan Valdivia and Gabriel Koppula

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