40 Years of Diversity

The color of one’s’ skin and the rich background each individual has is a part of who they are. The beauty of this identity is often overshadowed by the yearning to fit in and seem ‘normal’; however, this word is  very subjective and applies differently for each person. Over the past 40 years Apple Valley High School has created a safe and comfortable environment for every student.

Comparing 40 years ago to today there was a drastic increase in diversity: ”When you talk about diversity when Apple Valley High School opened, there wasn’t a lot of diversity,” said Nancy Grimes, former AVHS arts and activities director. Although people of color were present, there were no platforms in which they could speak their minds and talk about their origins.

After the establishment of the Fellowship Christian Athletes, the Muslim Student Association, and Diversity Club–each going through their own struggles to come into existence–a blend of people began to express themselves more openly as they connect with one another.

MSA, Muslim Student Association, was one of the more recent clubs, beginning in 2011, and was established only by the determination of a small group. It was built to help make students feel welcomed. “I believe MSA has created a platform for students to voice their religion and background,” said junior Aisha Salad.

“At the beginning no one thought it was possible to pray on school grounds, even a close Muslim friend told me it’ll never happen,” said MSA president Abdirahman Mahad.  Their journey was filled with doubt; nevertheless, they persevered and had their first event ‘Your Muslim Neighbor.’ “That event changed the thoughts of some people and cleared some cultural misunderstanding. Ever since that day that we decided to make MSA my faith in it has grown stronger.”

Another group that succeeded despite their size was FCA. Fellowship of Christian Athletes was somewhat established towards the beginning of the school’s opening; however the students just met and were not an official group. “The students would bring in a pastor and meet but they were not sanctioned yet,” said Grimes.

Although FCA was not sanctioned yet, their determination to share their faith has kept them going. The benefits from joining these small clubs impact every single member, because it gives them an opportunity to be themselves. “FCA creates a fun atmosphere where students like me can have fun and feel safe around others who share something that’s an important part of our lives,” said junior Cece Jones.

Mrs. Kuhn began advising FCA in 2001, and although the group was small, their accomplishments were big. “Going by and seeing at 6:30 in the morning a Bible study that has over 30 members is a huge success that people would sacrifice their time so early in the morning for such a cause,” said Kuhn.

The bonds created throughout these clubs bring students together in a shared sense of acceptance. “By having fellowship with people who share your faith affects how you view others and gives a bases on how to treat others.”

The Diversity club, formerly led by school psychologist Michelle Thompson, was a place in which students learned about the different cultures. This year the club has temporarily stopped; however, that doesn’t diminish their years of amazing work. “A few of what we did included visiting different restaurants, learning about cultures, and we also held a bubble tea fundraiser to pay for adopting a family during Christmas,” said. Thompson.

One of the many benefits of a diverse group is the knowledge acquired from it. ”Violence in any society comes from some sorts of misunderstanding or miscommunication; thus, having a place others could voice themselves will help clear some of that,” said AVHS sophomore Muna Hussein. Students learn many elements in another person’s life that they couldn’t have known in other means. As the diversity of AVHS broadens, so does the knowledge of its students.