Behind the Podium: Student Activism at Crofton High School


Janasia Shipman

A hallway at Crofton High School.

Ty Benedict , Staff Writer

“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble”

-John Lewis

School is where millions of kids spend a good chunk of their weekday, for 30 weeks a year.  So why do less than half of them feel like they truly have a voice in their school community? Theories aside, there is a huge need for student involvement in America’s schools.

Thankfully, this school is nowhere close to having a shortage of student activists, with whole clubs dedicated to them.  For those not familiar with the clubs in question, Crofton has black and Muslim student unions, a young feminist’s club, a GSA (gender sexuality alliance), and the equity leadership council, or ELC.  Each club addresses issues within the school in order to make a more inclusive and safe community for everyone.  But why listen to me when you can hear from the club members themselves?

Firstly, let’s hear from Layth Carpenter, a senior and media manager in the Black Student Union.

What do you do in this club?

“We want to give the black community of Crofton a voice.  We also create a safe space for the black community in Crofton.  We also do mental health discussions here at BSU. We respect all opinions and values, and we have a no tolerance policy for disrespect or ignorance towards anybody or anything”.

What got you into this club?

“I always wanted to be a part of BSU, I immediately wanted to be in a leadership position after I heard Crofton High had one.  I’ve also tried to get other people involved in the club too”.

Now that you’re in the BSU, do you feel like you have more of a voice as a valued member of the school community?

“Yes I do.  I feel more connected to the school as a whole, along with the black community of Crofton as a whole.  And not only do I feel connected, but I feel that the members of BSU feel more connected as well”.

Secondly, lets hear from Talla Sayyad, a sophomore and media manager for the Muslim Student Union.

So, what do you do in this club?

“Personally I’m the media manager.  I try to post educational things about Islam or what events we’re doing.  So far we’ve been trying to figure what to do, but we wanted to do fundraisers and educate people on Islam.”

Was there something that got you into the club?

“When I saw it on the club board I got really excited, and I thought it was a good idea for Muslim students to connect and feel safe at the school”.

Now that you’re in the Muslim Student Union, do you feel like you have a voice now?

“Yes, I really do.  We have a community to talk about what to do as a group, which we haven’t been able to do before”.

Thirdly, the GSA, represented by Bea Vance, who was more than happy to give some insight.

What do you do here in the GSA?

“ We kinda try to make the school a little safer for the LGBTQ+ community.  WE also give safe space stickers and they [the teachers] put them on their door.  We also give awards each week for teachers who go above and beyond for those who make us safe”.

What got you GSA?

“I was in the middle school GSA and I really liked it and wanted to do it in high school”

Do you feel more valued as an individual now that you’re in GSA?

“Yea.  I think its a lot easier to have a voice with these kinds of things when you have others who are also trying to have a voice, so you get together and we all have one big voice to get what we want done”.

And last, but certainly not least, Lindsey Hughes, a junior and seasoned member of the Young Feminist’s club.

What sort of things does the Young Feminist’s club do?

“We organize period product drives and clothing drives for battered women’s shelters-which are shelters for women getting away from abuse-.  The club overall is about education about feminism and to make a more inclusive space for everyone, regardless about how you identify”

How did you hear about the club? What got you interested?

“I came in last year because my friend wanted to join, and I found a great community here!”

Do you feel more valued and respected as an individual now that you’re in this club?

“Definitely. I would say everybody always has time to talk about how they feel about what’s going on either in their own lives or the world, and there’s a lot of research done if anyone has questions”

Without the sort of people you heard from here, our world would be in a much worse place.  No victory is won simply by waiting.  Its secured through action and perseverance.  And thanks to them, they’re leading the fight for a better community in Crofton for everyone.

Special thanks to Layth Carpenter, Claire Vidoloff, Lindsey Hughes, Bea Vance, Ozzie Washburn, Talla Sayyad, and Leila Mastailc.  This article wouldn’t be possible without them.