The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.

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The Future of UPOC

Hendrick Xiong-Calmes, '18, Online Editor

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With the end of Black History Month, the Panther Press wanted to take a closer look at our resident United People of Color (UPOC) club. This club lead the effort on honoring black history this month, and we took this chance to dive deeper into the message and goal of our school’s UPOC club.

Panther Press: What do you want members of United People of Color (UPOC) to get out of their membership?

Ms. Collins: I want them to have an opportunity for self-examination, cultural examination, cultural pride and cultural awareness of people other than just themselves. Also, for developing their leadership skills, helping kids who have not seen themselves as leaders or may not have had the chance to do so in other clubs or other capacities.

PP: What are you doing with UPOC’s strengthened platform?

MC: I think right now, we are in a revision stage. Ms. Ford led UPOC for a number of years; the last two or three years things have kind of died down, especially due to student rotation. This month, I like how we have approached it with smaller but more meaningful events. So that is what I’d like to keep doing right now, as opposed to doing a one stop shop assembly that is wellintentioned but can largely be preaching to the choir. On Monday we had an activity with the diversity trainers, exploring the political issues of the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, we looked at it through more abstract lenses of movement rather than just discussion. Maybe something like that could be a more frequent thing. [Motioning to dancers on stage in auditorium] This is their thing. We’ll be inviting classes to come see a showcase of student performance. I like that because it’s really giving them their own stage to show cultural pride and heritage. Long story short, I would like to see how things are received this month with this culminating event. I think this is a sound approach and I’d like to continue that.

PP: Do you perceive UPOC as a community for students or as a political group?

MC: It is a community for students. We address political issues, we address social issues, and we address economic issues, but ultimately it’s about the community and providing a space for students.

PP: What events do you have planned for UPOC, with Black History Month?

MC: Two new things that we did this year were our visits to two historically black colleges and universities. These visits were meant for exposure to predominantly black schools in the area and educating to what the story is for a historically black college and what that means. Sometimes just seeing a setting where the minority is necessarily minority can be so empowering. What is good too is that we were supporting two schools right in our own backyard, Lincoln and Cheyney, and enforcing Strath Haven’s connections with schools that have turned out some great leaders.

PP: Do you have events in mind for the future?

MC: One thing we are still not sure of for this year is our visit to Washington D.C. to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It opened in September of last year, and the difficulty is that the popularity is so great that there are timed passes, so you can’t just stroll in. I’m still trying to see when would be good for the trip. This is the kind of thing that I want for the future. We’ve had a lot of partnership with the Diversity Trainers this year, so we’d like to continue that relationship. Also, I’d like for UPOC to become more multicultural. We’ve had students of other ethnicities in the past, but retaining them has been a bit of a challenge. I try to stress that while UPOC’s predominant ethnic group is black, that is not what we are all about. For example, we would especially like to do something for Women’s History Month, and branch out towards AsianAmerican and Latin-American culture in the future. What I am hoping that the model for what we’ve done in Black History Month can encourage our membership and highlight more cultures in the future. One of my bigger long-term goals is keeping a clear message about who we are, keeping an open door, and being inclusive and inviting towards everyone.

PP: Seeing as you plan to take members of UPOC to see Hidden Figures, what do you want people to get out of it?

MC: I want people to have the experience the eye-opening of the contributions made to many things that aren’t isolated to just the white man’s story. This story is about both blacks and women. With the STEM interest, and Hidden Figures showcases the women, who happened to be black as well, who helped put a man on the moon.

PP: What do you have to say to people who are thinking about joining UPOC in the future?

MC: Stick around. We meet bi-monthly. I try to have one meeting dedicated to hanging out, and one for discussion and information. Come out, stick around, and don’t be scared.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
The Future of UPOC