It’s important to feel a sense of belonging because it allows people to feel comfortable and eventually open up, especially in classrooms.

If students don’t feel like they belong they’ll be less likely to participate and interact with other students. This is because people are scared of being judged, and when they don’t feel comfortable, they shut themselves out and miss out on so many opportunities because of it.

Not feeling like you belong can lead to sadness, insecurity, depression and suicide.

Diversity in classes is important because it gets students out of their “bubble” and (they) become more socially aware. If students aren’t aware of people who are different from them they might never see a different perspective or realize the importance of things. It's important to always include people of different backgrounds, races, genders, sexualities, and disabilities in discussions because when they aren’t, that leaves space for biases, danger and ultimately creates an unsafe environment.

In my experience I’ve felt the most comfortable when I’m in a room with Spanish speakers because they understand what it's like to speak both Spanish and English. There’s been times when my classmates and adults would treat me like I didn’t understand English just because they knew I also spoke Spanish.

I’ve spent my entire life speaking both Spanish and English and of course there are times when I don’t fully understand something in English but asking for a simple clarification is much different than someone automatically thinking I’m unintelligent.

I often find myself thinking that I shouldn’t take “harder” classes or give my opinion, and because of this I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities. However, over the years I started to realize that just because students may have different needs, that doesn’t mean that they can’t succeed. It’s unfortunate that this kind of thinking could’ve been avoided if people prioritized diversity and equity.

If we as a community want students to succeed, we must ensure that not only our classes are diverse but that our education system is, too.

Not all students learn the same way or need the same things, which means teachers can’t expect students to want to participate when they don’t even include their learning style. According to "Welcoming Students with a Smile," written by Youki Terada, "In other words, when students feel welcome in the classroom, they’re more willing to put time and effort into learning”.

Students who realize that their teachers, coaches and any other important people in their life believe that their needs are important, will feel more comfortable and valued. Trans students feel more comfortable and safer when teachers actually use their preferred name and pronouns and not bring up their dead name/ legal name.

ESL classes are a great way of providing students with language skills and support, which ultimately helps them succeed during and after high school. Acknowledging that people may need different types of resources is not a bad thing because this will ultimately improve participation, feelings of acceptance and value.

Jocelin Quintana is an 11th grader at Snider High School and the FWCS Amp Lab