Diversity Council Seeks to Reshape Culture at Southern Lehigh

Diversity+club+holds+a+meeting+to+plan+Advisory+activities+focused+on+discussing+matters+of+diversity+and+inclusion+within+the+school.

Jack Ziets

Diversity club holds a meeting to plan Advisory activities focused on discussing matters of diversity and inclusion within the school.

Lucas Zhang, Our World and Social Media Editor

For most people, discussions on the matters of diversity, race, and inclusivity are often precarious and uncomfortable. At Southern Lehigh High School, the students of the newly established Diversity Council hope to change such attitudes surrounding these conversations. 

In the summer of 2020, as nationwide Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation following the death of George Floyd, seniors Jack Ziets and Megan Albanese came together to form a vision that would eventually result in the formation of Southern Lehigh’s Diversity Council. 

“The murder of George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” senior and Diversity Council co-founder Jack Ziets said. “The last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of his life spawned a justified outcry of disgust at the racism that still plagues this country. I knew I couldn’t solve the problems of the country overnight, but I knew I had to start somewhere. Megan Albanese and I then teamed up to form what is now known as the Diversity Council.”

“Our world has been full of hatred and cruelty for so long and we couldn’t just sit back and do nothing,” senior and co-founder Megan Albanese said.

Open to all, the Diversity Council seeks to offer an open forum in order to discuss sensitive and often complicated topics on race and inclusivity. Through these conversations, the council has begun to generate ideas to share with the student body.  

“Currently we’re working on advisory lessons and school-wide projects to promote equality and inclusion,” Ziets said. “We hope to have some of these great initiatives up and running in the next few weeks.”

In pursuing and planning these events, the Diversity Council hopes to improve the culture surrounding these discussions of race and diversity at the high school.

“Our goal is simple: to expose our community to ideas and traditions that they may not be aware of, and to encourage people to be willing to learn about those around them,” Albanese said. 

By doing so, the organization also seeks to create a school community where people feel more comfortable being themselves..

“Through the Diversity Council, we hope to promote more inclusion and acceptance throughout the school community,” Ziets said. “No student should feel intimidated or discriminated against based on the color of their skin and who they are. If we can move the school forward one step, or make one person feel more included, our efforts will be worth it.”

While ambitious in goals, these objectives have been tempered by the challenges of meeting during a pandemic. However, the council has been able to adapt by designing activities that are flexible for the current blend of in-person and virtual schooling. 

Although challenged by both current circumstances and the lofty goals which have been set, the growing membership has remained steadfast and motivated in promoting change in the school community, a success which can perhaps be attributed to those who formed and comprise the council.

“I would say like many organizations here, it is entirely owed to the students who are willing to participate and are willing to have those conversations or initiate those conversations with peers and adults,” said English teacher Mrs. Lauren Tocci who co-advises the Diversity council alongside English teacher Mrs. Marlo Spritzer and Spanish teacher Mrs. Joan Imms-Geiser. “Teachers by their nature are organizers, and a lot of us feel pretty comfortable in leadership roles. But I’m always so much more inspired and I think it’s much more productive when students are leading these very vital conversations.”

The Diversity Council meets every other week via Zoom, and all interested students are welcome to join at any time. For more information, contact Jack Ziets or Megan Albanese, or anyone of the co-advisors: Mrs. Spritzer, Mrs. Tocci, or Mrs. Imms-Geiser.