The bell rings, it is lunchtime and students run down the halls to get into the cafeteria line. It is a Monday morning and there are a few clubs meeting. One of them is Mind the Gap.
“Mind the Gap envisions an inclusive community for students and teachers to foster a mutual understanding of each other by creating a safe space to have discussions about the various gaps that exist in the learning environment,” Tazeen Rashid wrote on their informational poster.
The students gather in Mrs. Rashid’s room on the second floor. There are approximately 10 permanent members with other students and teachers who come to listen in on the conversation and have their voices heard.
The Committee Head calls the meeting to order and they start with the agenda for the day and overall rules for discussion, as well as some more topics for the upcoming months and meetings. They then transition into an open discussion.
“We start the meeting with just going over general rules and the mission statement, but it isn’t much of anything. We let the members guide the conversation however they see fit and talk for as long as they need to so they can get their point across,” junior Justin Ricketts said.
Depending on the topic, there are different voices highlighted in the conversation. At the time of writing, it was Hispanic Heritage month, with the topic being ‘Gaps in the community and the identity of hispanics’. There were four hispanic members there that spoke up about their experiences as well as their thoughts about being connected to their culture.
“My favorite part of the club is the open conversations. The last meeting, I got to speak on my culture and have others care what I have to say and be genuinely interested,” junior Jayda Dookie said.
The club started in 2020 when an officer of Hands Across Campus wanted to create a short 10 week program that was a safe space for teachers and students to talk about issues in the classroom, it then evolved into a full time club that meets every week.
They continued to work with Hands Across Campus this year creating a calendar of discussion topics for each month focusing on race, culture and identity. However, the conversation does not always stick to the topics they chose to discuss for that meeting.
“One of the great parts about open discussion is it can lead in a completely different direction than we originally intended it to. We then might take the direction they went and make it into its own question for the next meeting,” Ricketts said.
Although there are few members, the things they talk about are very important to the school community. No one likes it when their voice is overshadowed by others, so the club works to make sure everyone is heard. As well as talking to faculty about some of the problems the club comes across.
“I’ve heard from specific teachers that they have seen a new point of view from the students they haven’t considered before, and it made them change the way that they think about students in school and how they teach. It kind of reframes their mind,” Ricketts said.
“I feel like, when you are in the club you can make a difference. The teachers like Mrs. Rashid really do pay attention to what we as students say, and she brings it up to administration. We try to make a difference which is really important in itself,” Dookie said.
Mind the Gap is a safe space to hear what peers have to say and listen to their stories. It is important to understand others and their backgrounds as it helps you be more aware and empathetic. Mind the Gap allows you to connect with others and open your mind to more than your opinion.