Verona Area High School Jared Biddle has had a difficult time finding spaces for students of color like himself. “At Verona High School, I have always felt like there was no space for students of color — in particular black students — to connect in a positive way outside of the classroom to other students who looked like them,” Biddle says.
Biddle’s experiences as one of very few students of color at a primarily white high school motivated him and other student leaders to create Verona High School’s first ever Black Student Union (BSU). “I created BSU so that black students could have a space where they could connect through common interests, struggles, culture, and experiences,” Biddle says.
Guidance from one of Verona High School’s newest counselors and now BSU’s advisor, Walter Williams, made making BSU an official club at the school much easier. “There was no push back from the staff. It was actually highly encouraged and they were very supportive of the idea,” Williams said, “The administration was completely on board. They understand the need for a space for students to feel welcomed and to feel comfortable and safe.”
Despite only being active for a couple months now, Verona’s BSU has big plans for the future. They hope to plan an African Night where they can showcase different aspects of their culture. Touring numerous historically black colleges and univerities is also underway. Planning these grand events will take much organizing and time, so in the meantime, they hope to provide a space for students of color to engage in dialogue surrounding issues going on within the school and society.
Williams is hopeful about BSU’s creation. “I think BSU is going to do great here at Verona. I think it’s going to be a great space for our students to feel welcomed and to feel a part of the community and overall, hopefully, it’ll become a place where they feel safe.”
This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and support the Madison365 Academy, visit madison365.org/academy.