New Club Spreads Diversity


Jordan Moore

Members of the Diversity Student Union stand in front of a Hanukkah PowerPoint presentation at the first club meeting on Dec. 2.

Out of the nearly 1,700 students at PHS, only 8% are from minority backgrounds. Because of this, seniors Sheza Ikhlaq and Yuan Uy have started the Diversity Student Union to help spread cultural awareness throughout the school and community.

“We wanted to unite the kids and help show them that we actually have some diversity here,” said Ikhlaq. “We wanted to learn each other’s cultures and traditions so we could be there for each other, so that we can support each other’s identity. The club itself started because I felt like students needed a resource to join each other in a safe space instead of hiding their diverse identities, because of the lack of communication among everyone.”

When Ikhlaq told Uy that she had a vision to encourage students to be prouder of their identities, Uy pitched the idea of creating a diversity club. They talked to Spanish teacher Jordan Moore who loved the idea and agreed to be the faculty sponsor of the group. The next step was presenting the plan to Principal Kenny DeMoss, who agreed to allow the club to be established, making the Diversity Student Union the first new club of the 2021-2022 school year.

“When I see people outside of our state being there for each other, I thought that Parkersburg doesn’t need to stay back, we have resources,” said Ikhlaq.

As a new club, the DSU will mainly focus on raising cultural awareness within the school. What occurs during club meetings will change week by week, depending on what the members of the club want to learn about.

“I decided to join the club because I wanted to learn more about different cultures, and the different cultures that are in our school,” said junior Kate Hayes.

The first meeting took place on Dec. 2 in Moore’s room, 232N. The members voted to pick some activities that the club would want to do. The answers varied from possibly having guest speakers, to completing crafts that are related to the culture that they’re studying.

“I was pretty nervous at first because I was standing in front of everybody, but my friends were there and they supported me through it,” said Ikhlaq.

The focus of the first meeting was on Hanukkah, and although none of the members are Jewish, the leaders still wanted to raise awareness about the Jewish culture. Ikhlaq researched the holiday, then created a PowerPoint that she presented to the group. She also made Sufganiyah, a Jewish donut with jelly filling for the group to enjoy.

The Japanese culture is the next topic that the group will learn about. Members of the club will bring in different foods that are important in the Japanese culture, and work on origami.

“The DSU is a place where students can express their culture and educate other,” said Ikhlaq.

They will meet every Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. to discuss the different holidays, festivals, music, and food of the world. If students have any questions about joining the club they should contact Ikhlaq, Uy, or Moore.