More than 10 years ago, a small group of Middle School students asked for a space where they could share common experiences and find ways to be more positively engaged in the Haverford School community. After meeting a few times, the group presented at a faculty meeting and asked for support. Middle School language teacher Kerry Kettering-Goens joined them as advisor, and over the years, the group has transformed into the I'm Not Kidding (INK) Club.
Club members hold weekly student-driven discussions, as well as activities with other schools, including taking part in Haverford's annual Middle School Diversity Conference.
I have found that over the past 10 years, all these different students had one thing in common - they were looking for a space to express themselves fully and freely.Kerry Kettering-Goens, INK advisor
"Our discussion topics in INK each week ranged from politics, to racial issues, to interactions that students had with their peers," said III Former Rock Parayre, who was a club member all three years of Middle School. "Whenever you had a question or something you wanted to talk about, you could bring it to INK, and share what you needed to in a safe space."
"I have found that over the past 10 years, all these different students had one thing in common - they were looking for a space to express themselves fully and freely," said Kettering-Goens. "I'm happy INK is able to provide that to them, and allows them to gain new perspectives and lessons from each other."
Over the years, students in INK have branched out from the weekly discussions to creating different affinity groups for all Middle School students, attending conferences such as the Young Men of Color Symposium in New York City, and partnering with other schools for service learning activities.
In February, students in INK hosted an assembly to mark 10 years and to kick off a new "Stand Up Fords" initiative. Each month, all Middle School students will embark on "different activities that encourage a culture of respect and kindness in the community," said Kettering-Goens. INK has continued these initiatives through Virtual Haverford, preserving connection and community in the Middle School.