Club Profile: Anti-Hate (AH) Squad

Emily Zhu, Online Staff Writer

AH Squad has returned this school year with momentum, driven by passionate and highly ambitious PDS students! The Anti-Hate Squad, or AH Squad for short, was initially formed in the 2018-2019 school year, when former Head of Upper School Trixie Sabundayo wanted to work with students to create a space and time to start conversations about hate and injustice throughout the school. Since then, AH Squad has evolved and rebranded itself significantly. After somewhat of a hiatus last school year, AH Squad has come back as a student-centered and student-led group focused on education. In the words of junior Frances Bobbitt, “this is a more hands-on, all-encompassing approach compared to AH Squad in past years.” Upper School English Teachers Dr. Manzulli, Ms. Lee, and Ms. Hamilton are faculty advisors who help supervise AH Squad from an administrative level. Currently, AH Squad is most active in the junior class, with hopes of coming together with other grades in the near future.

AH Squad is broken into three different areas of focus this year: policy reform, educational/curriculum reform, and workshops/allyship training. In essence, the goal of all three projects is to make PDS a more inclusive community where all students are properly heard and represented in all aspects. Junior Andre Williams asserted, “[AH Squad] means representing countless members of the PDS community who feel as though they don’t have a voice, and destroying discriminatory barriers present at our school.” Some initiatives that students in AH Squad are working on include teachers excusing students from schoolwork and classes during religious holidays and an all-school read of a text dealing with anti-hate. In addition, students in the group are working closely with Founder and CEO of Olive Branch Educators Dr. Diana Artis to plan effective class meetings.

Anyone is welcome to join AH Squad; as junior Idaliza Perez Jiminez notes, “AH Squad has nothing to do with whether you are a liberal, conservative, republican, or democratic. We are just a group of passionate students who want to evoke change for all and we advocate for anyone facing injustice.” AH Squad is a great opportunity to join crucial discussions, learn more about societal issues, and gain the skills to combat hate. It is a place that holds a large amount of meaning to many members of the student body. Perez Jiminez sees AH Squad as a judgment-free space of comfort and reassurance: “Knowing that there is a group of devoted activists in my school puts me at ease because I know that there are people who do care, understand, and are willing to listen to my experience. There is a lot of work needed to be done at PDS with its students and I’m glad AH Squad has taken the first step to try and make things better.” Bobbitt also feels a deep personal connection with her work in AH Squad: “…AH Squad is the final step in my PDS journey. I have been here since kindergarten and went through a lot, both good and bad. I then went to SDLC where I learned to put words to my experiences and got tools to do this kind of work and now I am using all of that to give back and shape the community for the better.” 

The student leaders of AH Squad have lofty goals for the rest of this year and the future. AH Squad is and will continue to remain an extremely valuable part of PDS, as it places emphasis on different student perspectives and individual experiences, and creates a culture of compassion and understanding within the community.