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The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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The Student News Site of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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The+Welcome+to+America+club+members+participate+in+an+activity+at+the+end+of+their+monthly+meeting%2C+playing+red+light%2C+green+light.
CJ Allison
The Welcome to America club members participate in an activity at the end of their monthly meeting, playing red light, green light.

MSD’s Welcome to America club creates an inclusive environment for all students

New clothes, new shoes, a new home, a new school and a new country. A student, having just moved to Florida from Mexico, sits down in her first class, not knowing anything about her school or the people around her. On the morning announcements, however, she hears that there is a Welcome to America club at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Intrigued, she goes to the meeting, where she is able to meet and connect with others who are in the same situation as her.

Welcome to America is one of MSD’s newest clubs, created to provide a safe space for students who are new to the country. The club is advised by Spanish teachers Luz Aguirre and Josefina Lamaison; however, it was created last year by a group of seniors who realized the need for a club to help new students.

“We [the board] created this club to try and help people that are not as good at speaking the English language,” senior and club secretary Alisa Furman said. “We want to create an environment where we could all get together to help each other.”

In the 2023-24 school year, the club aims to create a community that is welcoming to all students from different countries, whether they just moved here or have been in America for a while. The officers want to welcome students so they feel more comfortable with a big change in their lives, like moving countries.

“It is a cultural space. It is important for everyone to feel welcome, it is also good to have a space you can go to when you are new,” club president Mariana Mateus said. “It is nice to have someone who understands what you are going through. There are so many different backgrounds at this club and everyone is willing to help to make everyone feel welcomed.”

While a majority of the students in the club are Hispanic, the club welcomes students from all different backgrounds. The club strives to help students who are new to the country feel more welcome, knowing that they may have some trouble fitting in and adapting.

“Once I found out about this club I was really into it. I felt like I belonged somewhere,” Lamaison said. “Welcome to America is not only for Hispanic students, even though most of us are. There are a lot of people from different cultures and different backgrounds.”

The club hosts meetings on the second and third Wednesdays of every month. At meetings, Welcome to America student officers have members partake in activities, for example, the game of red light and green light, while also trying to assist newcomers with speaking English, learning about America, and making new friends.

“We do Kahoots, games, and board games,” Mateus said. “We also talk about school, dual enrollments, virtual classes, and questions that the students could have about the school. We play outside the classroom and share an incredible time together.”

With it only being the second year of the club’s existence, it has quickly grown in popularity. At the Oct. 8 club meeting, about 76 students from all over the world were in attendance.

“When I walked into the last meeting it was so amazing to see so many people attend,” junior Mariapaz Santacoloma said. “It felt like the club has already created such a large, great community and I am so excited to see the different events and activities they have in store for us this year.”

Welcome to America has given students an opportunity to find a community and comfortability not just at home but also in school. The club will continue to host meetings throughout this year that all students are welcome to attend.

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