Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

May 23, 2013

Clubbing, high school-style

Showcase introduces eighth-graders to extracurricular life at AHS

(Continued)

The Andover teams have been successful in tournament play across the state and usually rank high in the standings, Cromer said, in part because the sport is now being played by middle school students as well.

The Gay-Straight Alliance was also represented at the showcase, with its students and club advisers speaking about the need for acceptance and sensitivity throughout the school district.

“If it weren’t for this club, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” said 18-year-old senior Tara, adding that she didn’t join the club until she was a junior. “I always wanted to join, but it took me a little while.”

Spencer Kelly, also a senior, said he’s enjoyed being a member.

“I’m blown away about how safe it is here,” he said. “These people are awesome. I can tell them anything.”

Advisers Caitlin Mitchell and Deb Burch said the club has been around since the early 1990s after then-Gov. William Weld passed the state’s school safety initiative.

“It was one of the first in the state outside of Boston,” Burch said, adding participation in meetings typically varies from six or seven kids up to as many as 20.

Burch said over the years, Andover High “has become a safer and safer place.” She said gay and lesbian students aren’t worried about physical violence, but they do hear the occasional slur about someone or something being “so gay.”

“The problems they used to face in high school they now face in elementary and middle school,” Burch said.

Superintendent Marinel McGrath, who was going table to table talking to students and staff, credited the event with helping ease middle-schoolers’ transition to high school and applauded Seide for initiating it.

Another club fair is planned for the fall for ninth-graders.

“I think it was a success, especially for the first time out,” Seide said. “It provided that opportunity for students to show off their accomplishments and eighth-graders can now hit the ground running with clubs in the fall.”

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