By Katie Keith
Interact Club was created in memory of Rachel Joy Scott who was killed in the Columbine shooting. She was an anti-bullying advocate and created a building block for anti-bullying guidelines. Interact club is also a part of Rotary, which advocates leadership and goodwill. Interact Club focuses on stopping bullying and encouraging the community to become nicer and kinder. The James River Interact Club went to Diversity Day at Lynchburg University. Diversity Day is an all-day event with other schools Interact clubs all over the county. They bring 100 students for the day. Diversity is all about trying to have a diverse group of people. No matter the looks, no matter the beliefs, they are welcome to attend Diversity Day. All the schools gather and discuss a certain topic. This year topic was stereotypes and judgement based on the economic status. Students recognize prejudice and respect. The schools will come together and discuss the wide range of economic backgrounds.
One of the club members that went to Diversity Day was Ryley McKinney. She is a freshman at James River. She is an amputee and an advocate for anti-bullying. This was her first Diversity Day. “My first diversity was really fun and I loved that I was able to meet so many different people, it was eye-opening,” she said during the interview. “After coming back from Diversity Day, I wanted to bring all the lessons I learned there and use them in our school. You know try to make the school a better and more comforting place for the students.” Ryley wants to use the lessons of removing stereotypes of financial differences. “At James River, certain people with less money get more degraded than bullied. I noticed that a lot of the other schools had massive issues with this, and all the schools tried to help by giving them ideas.” When asked about her ideas on how to help out the school members with less money, she said she wants to help them feel more accepted. The Interact club also had the idea to start a closet that students with less money can discreetly come in and pick up things needed. Things like hygiene products, coats, school supplies, and more. “Another school had something similar for prom dresses, but just all around school year. This would just help their lives be easier.”
Another student that went to Diversity Day was Rachel Zerumsky. She is another freshman at James River and is in Interact Club. This was also her first Diversity Day. “I learned how accepting people can be, and I really want to bring that into this school. Our school is not very accepting when it comes to finances cause people get judged on what they have and don’t have,” she said during an interview with her. “I didn’t realize how many people were going to be there and how involved everyone is.”
One more student that went was Bailey Daniels, another freshman going to her first Diversity Day. “I wasn’t expecting to meet so many people who were so similar to me. All these people were into the same things as me,” Bailey said during her interview. “There is definitely a divide between financial groups, and we need to be more accepting of everyone. Everyone here is too scared to be who they are due to either finances, sexuality, race, religion, gender identity, anything. They are too afraid of being judged, and I want to help change that.”
One last interview is with the Interact sponsor, Sharon Keith. “We go to Diversity Day to learn how to make the environment of our school more diverse. It allows me to network without teachers and what is working in their schools,” she said. This is the fifth time James River High School has go to Lynchburg for Diversity Day. “We have used several ideas from other schools and put our own twist on them. Freespace Fridays where students could come before school and talk about things that bother them in a safe zone. Another thing is the Gossip Box is a test about how much social media impacts our school. We also do several Rachel’s Challenge activities throughout the year.”
From a range of diversity and economics, James River has many ideas on how the school can fix the issues between bullying and economics. Interact is determined to make James River a more open-minded and safe place for its students. Through closets to small positive messages, River is on its way to its goal of acceptance.