BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - GL Unfiltered, the high school-based organization of BH Unfiltered, hosted a virtual event February 21, called Breaking the Barriers, in which students and faculty heard an honest conversation about the school’s culture, personal development, and support systems.

There were five alumni and four current students on the webinar’s panel that answered a series of questions. One of the main goals of the event was to have a productive discussion, while giving attendees a sense of community.

Panelists also reflected on their time in high school, sharing personal experiences, and gave advice to their younger selves but also to the younger students in the audience. 

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Current student panelist junior Makayla Curtis felt that the discussion was thought-provoking and necessary for change. “I think it is extremely important to continue these dialogues in order to create a safe space for all students for years to come,” Curtis said. 

Curtis also mentioned how the discussion was successful in helping to inform faculty about the social climate of the school and how it can be improved. 

Sara Fajardo, co-founder of GL Unfiltered, felt similarly after hearing positive feedback from teachers and listeners. 

Fajardo was also proud of the speakers for being so open about their experiences. She said, “It was great to get in touch with so many alumni and give them a platform for their voices to be heard.”

At the discussion, the panel suggested an action plan to the Diversity Committee encouraging positive action. Some proposed ideas are hosting similar panels for teachers, providing a mentorship program, starting an anonymous email support service, and using social media to institute real change.

Nadezhda Mims, GL Unfiltered advisor, was extremely satisfied with the turnout of the event and how honest the speakers were. “It is important to provide a safe forum for diverse voices to be heard and acknowledged. These young people were amazing, and they are our future leaders, we need to take heed,” Mims said.

GL Unfiltered has more discussions like this and other plans in the future to continue promoting inclusivity, foster a great school culture and, as the name of the event suggested, break the barriers.