by Anaya Rodgers '20
At an independent school, navigating the social scene is especially difficult considering how small and intimate the community is. There are so few people that one feels the need to grasp onto anyone, even if they wouldn’t naturally click. And the natural thing to do is search for someone with qualities in common, but at a school like NCS where there are roughly three hundred upper schoolers, and less than seventy girls in my grade, for example, it is normal to feel like you don’t fit in or belong. This hypothetical was a reality for me when I began at NCS in fourth grade.
As a newcomer and a former public school attendee, navigating NCS was similar to navigating a maze, but in the maze were forty-four confused mice; roughly forty were white mice, and I along with four others were black mice. I came from schools with a sea of brown, both students and teachers alike. So when I started at NCS, I felt lonely. Both because I didn’t know anyone in an unfamiliar place, but more so because I rarely saw anyone who looked like m. And I would say this was the case until I entered the upper school, and attended a meeting that would change my life.
On the first F day of 2016, you know where I was during clubs. I ran to Ms. Hamilton’s room from physics and as if the ancestors had coursed through me themselves, I began to cry. I hadn’t seen this many black students at NCS in my entire six years. It was home like I had never experienced before. The smiles I saw before I even made it through the door, and hugs I received before I introduced myself gave me insight into the tight bond that this community shared and would soon extend to me. Almost three years later, I can proudly identify myself as the president of this club, the Black Student Union. Without it, I can only imagine that I would still be my fourth grade self with a better understanding of the school.
Since my time in the upper school, we have established a black student union in middle school. It’s wonderful to see that they won’t have to wait until upper school to share this experience. And as I hope that some of my work as a leader of this club and community will be effective to the thirty black girls in BSU, I also hope that it translates to a lower schooler who looks a lot like I did all those years ago.
Every student deserves to see themselves every place in which they exist, particularly at their school. Affinity groups provide that affirmation, the comfort we so desperately seek. I don’t know where I’d be without BSU, but that’s a question I do not have to answer. I believe in the power of young women to exist in, bring light to, and dominate any space in which we may be. And, to me, affinity groups are the tunnel to bring us to that light.