Middle School Affinity Groups
Who am I?
This is a difficult question to answer if you are a Middle Schooler, and at Westside we want to help our students explore aspects of their identity. It’s no secret that the more we understand ourselves, the easier it is for us to relate to others. We want to make sure students feel a sense of belonging at Westside. Creating opportunities in classes for our students to explore different aspects of themselves and share their experiences will help us all grow in our understanding of each other.
One way to commit to anti-bias work and to create an environment where students feel safe, strong and reflected within their environment is to offer Affinity Groups. Affinity Group meetings allow students to share experiences, affirm and celebrate norms within the identity, and engage with the greater Westside community.
The term affinity group is used as a bringing together of people who have an identifier in common. Affinity groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and can speak to the experience of being a member of the group from the “I” perspective.
Affinity Groups allow for:
- Building community
- Providing opportunities for affirmation and celebration
- Promoting ideas for action
- Identifying issues
- Preparing for deep and honest cross-cultural dialogue with other affinity groups
Westside's Middle School has created Affinity Groups in response to student requests for their need to explore their identity with individuals who have the same social identifiers as themselves. Attending an Affinity Group is optional, and that choice is integral to the program. Affinity Groups are facilitated by trained faculty members who reflect the same named affinity as the group. Student needs assessments will identify additional groups as interest grows overtime.
"We often have a notion that a healthy community is synonymous with sameness, and this may unintentionally prevent us from feeling that we can bring our authentic selves into our community. Inherent in the principle of unity is diversity. Every single student in this school has a rich series of identities and affinities, and that’s what makes us wonderful, unique, and diverse." ~ Meghan Waddle, MS Head
"Affinity spaces are designed for students to develop and strengthen their own lived identity. Affinity groups will provide safe spaces for peers to explore and build a healthy identity formation." ~ 8th Grade Student
2021-2022 Affinity Groups
- BIPOC Affinity Space
- LGBTQ+ Affinity Space
Affinity Group Resources
- Teaching Tolerance: Making Space: Affinity groups offer a platform for voices often relegated to the margins.
- Learning for Justice: Anatomy of an Ally
- NAIS Diversity & Multicultural Definitions
- NAIS What White Children Know About Race
- Scientific American: How Diversity Makes Us Smarter
- Affinity Group Resource Page: For Independent Schools Interested in Starting Affinity Group
2021-2022 EQUITY & INCLUSION SPEAKER SERIES
This year, Westside School is excited to partner with local independent schools to bring the Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series to our communities. The purpose of this series is to raise awareness, challenge ourselves, deepen understanding, and empower our communities to advance their efforts to actively recreate systems into equitable, inclusive, and antiracist institutions. The program invites 4-5 speakers throughout the academic year to create access to recognized authors and speakers that engage participants in complex topics through dialogue, cross-cultural communication, and a deeper understanding of the impact that racism and oppression have in our institutions and the greater society.