By: Kendall Serena
When discussing the clubs that exist in JCHS, one club sticks out simply for its valuable and important lessons that are shared by the students, the Self- Advocacy club. Self-Advocacy is a club that is designed for students who have an “obstacle” or a challenge that they want to overcome. An obstacle isn’t limited to just a learning disability but can be a problem relating to family or social life.
The main goal of the club is for the students to recognize their obstacle and try to move beyond it. One of the main goals that the club does is for the members to write speeches about themselves and present it to some eighth grade students and fellow members who also have obstacles. By presenting their speech, the students will hopefully try to “overcome” it. Ms. Keil, the advisor, states that her favorite part about this is that she is able to witness the growth of the students throughout high school.
Then there is another portion of the Self Advocacy club that is also advised by Ms. Keil which is the Student to Student mentoring, where high school students go and visit children in the elementary schools who have IEP’s (Individualized Education Program), or a learning obstacle. Students from the high school, usually starting from tenth grade, are partnered up with a student from Washington or Wilson elementary schools and participate in activities such as reading with them and playing games. A junior named Elizabeth Cofone, described the trips as an experience that brings her a lot of joy for numerous reasons, especially the sense of nostalgia when retuning to the schools and seeing how much the setting has changed.
The Student to Student mentoring program started out four years ago when Ms. Keil came up with the idea for her tenth grade English Class for the students to write letters to Washington and Wilson elementary school asking the children what their favorite books were. Ms. Keil went out and purchased the books for the kids, wrapped them up, and presented them to the students, hence the creation of the quilt located in the library. The importance of this club is that it promotes literacy to the students as well as creating a bond between them. The difference between Self Advocacy and Student to Student to mentoring is that the latter is funded by a grant in order to purchase books for the younger students, while Self Advocacy is fund-raised through the high school, but Ms. Keil paired them together.
Both Student- to-Student mentoring and Self Advocacy teaches precious lessons to the students and helps others in a fun way, which is why this club means a lot to the people who participate. But most importantly, the club offers great opportunities to form bonds with all types of students that will last a long time.