Huntington High School’s AWOD club pursues its mission with dogged determination. While its members might change as seniors graduate and incoming freshmen join the action, the work continues in a seamless fashion.
Huntington’s A World of Difference club, which is more commonly known by the acronym AWOD, promotes anti-bias and diversity programs that allow students to better understand the issues of prejudice and bigotry as well as providing a forum for exploring diverse viewpoints.
“The theme of our recent semi-annual training was ‘embracing our uniqueness, confronting bias safely and forging meaning from all of it,’” said teacher Suzie Biagi, who serves as the club’s faculty advisor along with retired librarian Camille DeCanio.
Once a “safe environment” was established by the students involved in the training session, they quickly launched into a set of activities planned by the two faculty advisors, who are both veteran peer trainers.
AWOD club members
recently held a training session.
J. Taylor Finley Middle School teacher Sharon Holly was this year’s guest speaker, sharing her story as students listened with rapt attention. “You could hear a pin drop as she spoke,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Team building and icebreaker activities ranged from “getting to know you” to “human knots.” Club members shared heartfelt tales about their “personal artifacts” and then engaged in activities that explored issues regarding diversity appreciation, misconceptions and stereotypes in an effort to enhance perceptions about different peoples and cultures
“Huntington’s AWOD club offers ever evolving anti-bias training programs, which continually focus on the development of an inclusive culture and respectful school and community climate by addressing issues of bias and bullying,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Graffiti boards were utilized to address current cultural and stereotypical issues. The boards spurred large group discussions, which included challenges to misconceptions.
The evening training program culminated with the recently established tradition of fortune cookie strips. Participants randomly selected strips containing questions that encouraged them to address hidden thoughts and concerns with their newfound AWOD friends.
As students filed out and headed home, they seemed energized as AWOD begins to pursue this year’s mission.