Help is heartwarming


Mary Urbas

The 2022-2023 DE&I committee members pose for a photo.

Iman Divanovic

One massive benefit of the culture in WHHS is the many outlets it offers for seeking help, as well as seeking to help others, as long as you can find them. There are a lot of clubs at WHHS that offer aid, whether it’s educating people on sexual violence, like Safe BAE, or trying to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in Walnut, like the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DE&I).
Safe BAE, lead by student Willow Shannon, ‘24, is a larger non-profit organization that works to end, prevent and educate about sexual violence in middle schools and high schools across the country. The Safe BAE club at Walnut is a chapter of that organization.
In meetings, members go over one topic a week where people present and educate other members on things like rape culture, consent, how to support survivors and more. At the end of the meeting members discuss and plan things they want to do: either fundraise for other nonprofits and organizations they support, or plan events to educate the rest of the student population.
A member of Safe BAE, Caitlyn Mitchell, ‘24, said she joined the club because she “thought it was important for people to understand all these different types of sexual harassment/assault definitions. I wanted to learn more about it because I know stuff about it, but I wanted to be able to go more in depth with it, [and] I thought it was important [that] other people [knew about it] too.”
Mitchell likes being in the club, and feels the people are great to be around.
“It’s a nice environment. There’s snacks, we have good discussions. Our head, Willow, she’s very kind and considerate of people. Like if something might trigger them, she’ll go slow [and] she’ll make sure to ask if everyone’s okay,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell feels good about what the club is doing and if she had time would join it again next year.
“I feel good about it because it’s normalizing different forms of consent. It’s making sure that people know that it’s okay to not feel okay about some things and not to always say yes,” Mitchell said.
Lastly, Mitchell thinks everyone should join Safe BAE and normalize the conversation.
But Safe BAE is not the only club at WHHS that offers help. DE&I is a council committed to improving school culture around the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
According to the slide show shared with students at class meetings, DE&I states “It is central to our mission as an educational institution to ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive in our environment, for we believe that diversity is key to individual flourishing, educational excellence and the advancement of knowledge.”
Kathleen Restle, a faculty member in the club, says that “the main mission of the group is just really to promote diversity, equity [and] inclusion in the school, to build on our [already] diverse culture and to see how we can enhance that and…make Walnut Hills a great place for diversity to grow, and for all kids to feel like they are part of the school and have access to all the school has to offer. I think that’s always been the strength of the school, but we just want to keep enhancing that in whatever way that we can. Our club [also] kind of integrates some of the anti-racism requirements and expectations from Cincinnati public schools too.”
Restle said that one of her favorite things about the club is “hearing the student’s perspectives…Students have some really great ideas and things that they want to get going at the school and I think they realize [that] our diversity is a strength and they want to keep building on that. And I think that’s really good for the school.”
Restle said that last year there was so much going on so instead of an election, students applied to be grade level reps.
“We have two grade level reps for each grade and about two to three committee members for each grade too. Those are the people that are part of what we call our Diversity, Equity [and] Inclusion Council,” Restle said.
Even though the student reps have already been chosen, Restle still recommends this club for everybody.
“I think that even though we have an established council, it’s an inclusive group, [and] we’re hoping that we can really get some activities going that will bring in anybody who’s interested. I think it’s a great way for everybody in our community to be involved because this impacts everybody,” Restle said.