By Meredith Espinosa
For Round Two of Expeditions, Everest Public High School added a new class: Identity. This afternoon-only class explores the concept of identity and how it applies to students.
However, since the class is brand new, there are only seven students actually in it. This seems bad at first, but having a small class size gives the teacher, Jewell Bachelor, much more time to talk with each student individually.
In the class, students discuss what identity means, what their identities are, and how that affects them as a whole. One of the students told me, “I know who I am … to a certain extent but I don’t know everything about myself yet, so I’ve learned a lot about myself.”
The class has also spent some time discussing identity in society. It’s had a strong focus on how people are treated because of their identities, especially people of color and queer folk.
The first day I shadowed, the class discussed the concept of community and what it means, and in the afternoon explored gender and what it meant to be genderfluid. Students asked questions and gave opinions and had good, strong discussions about their identities and the identities of others.
The class isn’t afraid to shy away from rough topics, either. On my second shadowing day, the class watched a documentary investigating the murder of Marsha P. Johnson, a case that was ignored by the New York City police because the victim was a trans woman.
The community at Everest is a big focus for the class, especially focusing on how accepting the community is. A student told me they “felt like the community at Everest is very accepting of who we are, like if someone is bisexual or anything like that I feel like people would be very accepting.”
However, that isn’t the same everywhere. The same student told me, “I live in a very white community, so I feel like some people in my community wouldn’t be that accepting of a bisexual person, but some people would be, it depends.”
The class has only begun, so there is still more its students want. One said, “I want to talk more about how we figure out who we are as a person, and what we can do to help.” There are still four weeks of Expeditions class time left, so maybe those topics will be brought up later.
Ultimately, the class is providing a brand-new opportunity at Everest: a chance to really let people explore their identities and find out who they are.
You can see footage of the class and interviews here.