The Respect Club is a new club at Malden High run by President Verlineca Bellange and Vice President Yasmine Alayan.
Bellange and Alayan got the idea to start this club together last year on Civics Day at the State House. They were there for an event held by Generation Citizen, an organization that provides students with civic education in schools. According to Bellange, Thomas Dalton, Senator Lewis’ communication director, gave them the idea of the Respect Club after Senator Lewis’s campaign ‘Respectfully’, which focuses on sexual harassment. However, the club was not created through an easy process. “While they were running around the State House, they met Senator Lewis and Thomas Dalton, and after that they set up a meeting with Senator Lewis,” Bellange says. At the meeting, Bellange and Alayan talked to the Senator about potential issues this club could address and find solutions to, and he even gave them pop sockets and bags for club merchandise. “Originally, her topic for Generation Citizen was about drugs and Yasmine’s was about sexual harassment,” Bellange explained. “Senator Lewis gave us the idea of merging our ideas together to create a club that focuses on these issues along with other issues their high school faces . The reason why he wanted to do this is he wanted a third party to be able to communicate with kids, because he felt that adults do not really understand Generation Z, and that they should speak out against issues that affect them.”
The Respect Club focuses on the physical and mental well-being of students, as well as working to reform many issues in the school. Some of the things this club is looking to do is hanging the Palestinian flag in the Gallery, planning something for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, doing a gallery on black representation, and helping find ways for students to decrease stress in school.
Vice President Yasmine Alayan explained that as far as goals for the club, “she is hoping they can solve a lot of the student issues, because she feels like they talk about them for a little while and then they just get forgotten.” Alayan also explained how they need to make sure students “feel heard and that they just feel respected by the staff, and that the staff feels more respected by the students. It would just create a much healthier relationship between everyone.” Creating this healthy relationship between students and teachers creates a better learning environment, as well as making Malden High a more enjoyable place to be.
Bellange added on to this, explaining how “people hear respect and make fun of it, but it is not necessarily about respecting people, it is about respecting yourself and raising awareness to mental health and other health problems that nobody talks about.” According to the club advisor Michelle Filer, “the club’s goals are important in terms of thinking about elevating school voice and making sure students feel safe at school.”
The club’s first meeting had a great turnout, with Mr. Mastrangelo, Thomas Dalton, and the mayor of Malden, Gary Christenson, also making appearances.
Anyone is welcome to join and share their ideas. The Respect Club meets every Monday at 2:30 in room J380.