Malverne High School to replace Black Studies Club
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“I think there’s maybe preconceived notions about certain cultures, and I don’t think that’s explored in depth,” Romano said of the new club. “I think it will demystify certain cultures and allow people to celebrate cultural difference.”
Several residents criticized the plan at the meeting — including Malverne High senior Sigourney Ann Hessic, 16, who was vice president of the Black Studies Club two years ago — arguing that Black Studies has embraced diversity since it was established in 1973. “I have no problem with integrating other cultures into the club because, after all, that’s what we try to do,” Hessic said. “We don’t need to have a title explaining that, when if you just come to our meetings, you’ll understand that we’re getting that point across as well.”
Hessic said that she helped to organize club fundraisers, visits to the Black History Museum in Manhattan and annual celebrations of Black History Month. Members also raised money for children at an orphanage in Haiti that is owned by former faculty advisor Florence Balay, a chemistry teacher at Malverne High, after Hurricane Sandy strafed the country last year.
Malverne High alumnus Cay Fatima — who participated in one of the first civil rights demonstrations at the high school in 1969, demanding that a Black Studies course become part of the curriculum — also urged administrators to keep the club intact, to honor efforts directed at cultural advancement by former and current students.
“We are one of the only student districts that have really fought for civil rights with regard to creating diversity in the community,” Fatima said at the meeting. “When these young people, constituents and taxpayers complain about the watering down of a club, I feel kind of disenfranchised, because we worked very hard."