GSA, JSU, First Priority celebrate student diversity at PBC

Britney Santibanez, Staff Writer

Key Club is known for their hospital visits during the holidays, Red Cross is recognized for painting homes in their community, and UNICEF loves their drives for food and toiletries, but few realize that the smaller, student-run clubs have a lot to offer as well.  Focused on inclusivity and acceptance, the Gay-Straight Alliance, the Jewish Student Union, and the First Priority are clubs rolling out their welcome mats at Central.

 

Gay-Straight Alliance

Held in Room 6105, GSA strives to be a safe place for both LGBTQIA+ students and their allies.  

Photo by Christian Holt

Although the club is not new on campus, they do have a new sponsor after Dr. Milich left Central at the end of last year.  Dr. Jourgensen, their new adviser, would like to see the club do more in the community, something the club was never directly involved with in the past.  He believes that service projects such as beach cleanups would benefit the members and the community by showing “that the LGBTQ+ and their allies are willing to go out and help and support their own community.”

While students are free to join all clubs, not all clubs support inclusivity like GSA. According to a study by stopbullying.gov, 32 percent of LGBTQIA+ students report being bullied on campus, so Jourgensen recognizes the importance of providing a secure environment, and makes the club’s goal clear: “To give LGBTQIA+ students a safe space to be themselves and have support from their straight allies, like students, teachers, and faculty.”

Because of this goal, the club fulfills the mission of the Safe Schools program, a project that is designed to help schools establish a safe environment for all students.  The Safe Schools program was designated in 2019 when Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 7030 in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.  

“[Being a part of Safe Schools] adds a sense of feeling of importance to the cause and the students get attention from the District,” noted Jourgensen, who hopes to have regular meetings on at least one Thursday every month.  He also stressed that everything they do isn’t about LGBTQIA+.  “GSA is a place where everyone can feel welcomed.”  

For more information, check out their Google Classroom at “svnenhi.”  To find out more about the GSA network, click GSA

 

Jewish Student Union

This year, junior and president of the JSU, David Rockmacher, wants to not only see more students participate in their group but also see the group become more involved with school activities. 

The national organization started in 2002 in an effort to bring Jewish teens together with diverse backgrounds.  The national JSU holds retreats, holiday parties, community service projects, and guidance for the high school clubs.  They now have over 200 public schools participating including  PB Central.  

[It’s necessary to have this club] to provide Jewish education and Jewish learning,” Rockmacher explained. “It gives Jewish kids a place where they can feel free to show that they’re Jewish and for other kids to have fun and learn.”

The JSU’s mission is to support each other and explore the cultural and ethnic experiences of being Jewish.  And just for fun, they usually have pizza (kosher, of course) at their meetings. 

At their first meeting, the club spoke on the importance of Shabbat through reading the book of Genesis. Afterward, the club had students braid Challah, a special type of bread most often eaten on ceremonial occasions. Participants could top their Challah with an assortment of toppings such as chocolate chips, sprinkles, and sesame seeds.

Be sure to listen to the announcements for the date of the next JSU meeting. To find out more about the national organization, click Jewish Student Union

 

First Priority

If Christianity speaks more to you, then stop by the First Priority meetings for scriptures, snacks, games, and discussions. Like GSA and JSU, First Priority wants to create an environment where students can connect with each other.

Robert Caullett and Nick Verna break the ice in First Priority over a game that represents teamwork. The club recently met on September 8. Photo by Christian Holt

“One of the things First Priority is going to be known for is creating a really welcoming community for the people who want or need somewhere to belong,” said senior and club president Nick Verna.  

A national club, started in 1993 by Christian author and speaker Benny Proffitt and 11 other youth Pastors in the Irving, TX area, First Priority America now serves over 3.3 million Christian students.    According to their website, First Priority clubs are “uniting the church to equip students so that every teen on every . . . . high school campus in the United States can hear the gospel from a friend.”

For Verna’s club, the goal gets more personal.  “First Priority is a place where Christians can come to connect with other Christians and non-Christians to become friends,” he explained. “We treat our members like family.” 

Meeting activities will include reading and discussing scriptures, playing games, watching videos, and having snacks. 

To join Central’s First Priority, check out the Google Classroom at “d4groha.” To find out more about First Priority America, the national organization, click First Priority America