By Jenny Macler ’23
Here at The Frederick Gunn School, students are enthusiastic and passionate about a multitude of topics outside of the classroom. That means that we have an abundance of different clubs and affinity groups, but what’s so important about joining a club and how do you know which one is right for you?
The clubs at FGS include Green Club, Baking Club, Gray Party, Chemistry Club, First Aid Club, Cars and Mechanics, Gunn Gives Back, Banana Split Club, Gunn Society, Moot Court, Math Club, and Poetry Club. As for affinity groups, we have Asian Student Association, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Judaic Society, Abigail’s Circle, Black and Latino Union, Crossroads, and Gunn Global. The majority of these clubs hold weekly meetings, lasting approximately an hour. They discuss their shared interests, as well as making plans for the school year while working on various projects for the greater good of the community. For the majority of people, clubs are a way to let loose and enjoy the companionship of those with similar interests to you. It’s a time to focus on topics that you care about and a place to meet new and interesting people.
Mr. Drew, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, defined what an affinity group is, saying “An affinity group is an I statement. You walk into the room and you’re saying, this is who I am. This is not what I do, this is not what I like. No, this is who I am. I will bring myself to this conversation.” He said “People do better when they know who they are [but]… it’s hard to just look at a map and be like this is my destination. You actually gotta find some clues, you gotta do a little research, you gotta see what’s out there.” That’s where Gunn clubs and affinity groups come in. They’re here to help students discover what interests them and who they are as people.
If you’re unsure about what club or affinity group to join, or maybe you’re not ready to make a huge commitment, consider attending just a meeting or two. Nothing is binding and it’s okay to change your mind later on. It’s important to use this time in highschool to try new things and discover what makes you who you are. You may find a topic that you didn’t know you were interested in, or you may meet and bond with people who you would have otherwise never known. Either way, push yourself to branch out and make the most of your time at The Frederick Gunn School.
An affinity group is an I statement. You walk into the room and you’re saying, this is who I am. This is not what I do, this is not what I like. No, this is who I am. I will bring myself to this conversation.
It requires a lot of trust of other people and yourself to be able to display that I statement.
It’s hard to just look and a map and be like this is my destination. You actually gotta find some clues, you gotta do a little research, you gotta see what’s out there.
What are the things that make an identity? Not just the sports you do or the books you read. But what are the things, that in a society, defines me. Wherever I go, this is who I am.
Finding that identity and that I does take time. Some identities don’t just pop up, some identities change.
It shouldn’t feel like work, it should feel like a conversation.
People do better things when they know who they are. If someone is lost, they will be like I do not know what’s going on with myself so everything outside is gonna be scattered too.
These groups are for them… they’re are not really for the school. They’re for students who have an idea of who they are.
If you have an idea and we have an affinity group who can help reenforce that for you, use that, use that space for that reason because you’ll be grounded somewhere as far as your identity is concerned and you’ll have other people and peers who want the grounding too. It won’t just be you trying to figure out your identity. Other people in that group trying to figure out what does it mean to be black or latino, what does it mean to be lgbtq+, what does it mean to be a girl, a women.
Being in a place where what’s understood doesn’t have to be said, that makes conversation go a certain way, for the better.
It’s hard knowing what you know because now you can move beyond that and learn so much more. Then there’re those moments where you don’t know what you dont know and that’s when a place like the frederick gunn school could fall short. We might not be able to fully get you there. We may not be able to fully help you understand yourself, but if you continue thinking about your identity, thinknignn about what it is like to be with like minded individuals in a space, maybe you’ll further define yourself into something unique and you might try to develop your own affinity group on that.
We can talk about identity, we can talk about self, we can talk about individuality and establishment because it’s a long process. But this is the time where you can figure that out. Being here is a space where I hope I can leave my door open and you and I can figure it out.