Black Student Union (BSU) is based on representing and celebrating our Black students’ unique identities here at Kennedy. They raise awareness about racial injustice and how it connects to the school. Mackenzie O’Connor and Rachel Collins, the staff sponsors, let students drive most of the meetings, events and ideas. The two do their best to support any initiatives the students bring up.
“Our end goal for BSU is to promote awareness and intercultural understanding as it comes to racial equity in our building. [It’s] also to celebrate our Black students, their stories and their identity,” O’Connor said.
BSU partnered with Gay-Straight Alliance in 2022 to hold an event called “Voices of the Voiceless.” This event gave students a platform to speak in front of an audience.
“This was done for the opportunity for student voices who are in a minority group within our school to be heard,” Wilsee Kollie, a BSU student leader, said. “Minority voices are more likely to be silenced, so … this open mic night, it gave a safe space for many who are overlooked. “
BSU is open to people of all races and ethnicities. Students are welcome to join the club at any time by coming to one of the meetings, which are held every Thursday after school in room 125. The meetings are casual and easygoing.
“It is a safe space for everyone,” Gentine Nzoyikorera, vice president of BSU, said. “Even if you’re not Black, you can be an ally and that’s just as powerful.”
The growth of esports in recent years has sparked the formation of esports clubs in high schools across the country. Now, Kennedy has an esports club of its own. Riot Games’ tactical first person shooter game, “Valorant,” and Nintendo’s fighting game, “Super Smash Bros.,’’ are two of many video games played competitively in front of an audience. Kennedy’s computer science teacher Jason Lester started an esports club in 2021 for students to compete at Kennedy.
Esports club provides students with the opportunity to develop communication and interpersonal skills.
“Esports is important for Kennedy because participation in esports helps develop teamwork and relationships between students,” Lester said.
In the 2021-2022 school year, the varsity and JV Rocket League teams competed as a part of the Iowa High School Esports Association (IAHSEA) for the first time. Varsity finished third out of five in their division competing against the top two Rocket League teams in the state. JV finished first in their division.
The Valorant and Rocket League teams regularly compete in the High School Esports League (HSEL). They are also looking to add a Super Smash Bros. team to compete in the IAHSEA in fall 2022.
“No matter what grade you’re in, you’re becoming a stepping stone and building something big for those to follow,” Nat Jun, student head of the esports club, said.
Esports club is open to casual and competitive players of all grades. Anyone interested in competitive gaming is highly recommended to join.
Kennedy students wanted to take steps toward self-sustainability by growing their own foods and giving back to the community. With this mindset, junior Erin Renshaw created an agriculture club.
Renshaw and fellow junior Emma Welsh brought the idea to life. Agriculture club currently meets in room 230 and plans to start meeting outside in the school garden when the weather improves.
Renshaw explained she started the club to bring people who wouldn’t normally be in a club together to share their love of gardening.
“[We’re] bringing gardening to more people and spreading inclusion,” said Renshaw. “Also, we are trying to put a group of people together that normally wouldn’t go up to one another to come and share their excitement to be a part of something that you can put your hands into.”
This club lets people relax after a hectic day. A study from Environmental Health Perspectives found spending only two hours outside after a day at work or school can improve your mood, decrease stress and improve sleep.
“This club is open to anyone. I am a total garden nerd and there are some people in the group that can’t keep a small house plant alive. We like to invite everyone,” Renshaw said.
The agriculture club is hoping to donate the food they grow to local food banks and shelters. They also work with Feed Iowa First, a non-profit organization that helps local communities grow produce for those in need.
Students are welcome to join the agriculture club anytime. Renshaw is available to answer questions about the club at [email protected]
“This club is open to anyone, whether or not they have gardening experience. We just want to share the gardening experience with everyone,” Renshaw said.