Union Free School District
- Hastings-on-Hudson U.F.S.D.
New Group at Middle School Seeks to Support Students of Color
Farragut Middle School is launching a group aimed at ensuring that students of color feel seen, heard, empowered and supported in the Hastings-on-Hudson community.
The first of its kind at the middle school, the FMS Affinity Group provides a safe space for students to talk about their experiences and openly share their feelings with others who may share the same beliefs and viewpoint.
"It provides a free space where they won’t have to worry about censoring themselves because we share a common identity,” said Jada Dickens, one of the faculty advisors of the group.
Although there is an affinity group in the high school, Dickens said it is important to provide the same atmosphere for middle school students. Having participated in an affinity group when she was in high school herself, Dickens said, she wished she had the option earlier.
"It was middle school that I really needed it,” she said. “By the time they get into high school it's almost too late for us to have that conversation about who they feel they are as a person.”
Advisors noted that the group intends to allow middle school students from grades five to eight a place to hold discussions with their peers who may differ in age but share similar identities. The goal of the group is to allow the students the chance to make connections that they may not make in school otherwise.
"Students oftentimes don’t know where they fit in,” said advisor Raquel Reid-McFarlane. “The whole idea of the group is having a sense of belonging.”
The advisors also act as a bridge between administration and the faculty, allowing students to come to them if they ever feel marginalized or uncomfortable. Dickens said that allowing students to have conversations at a younger age may give them more confidence in and out of school.
"It is a place for them to gain tools,” added Dickens. “It’s important to have these conversations and to provide them with support.”
Dickens and Reid-McFarlane agreed that it was no coincidence the group is starting now. With students more engaged in conversation about current events and the tumultuous times of the nation, both advisors said that now is the most important time to allow their students’ voices to be heard.
"These kids are affected by what happens in the nation,” said Dickens. “It’s not just high school students, these students know what’s going on as well.”