At the Northwest School, students and faculty alike pride themselves on the diversity within our community. The drive for diversity at Northwest is represented through the many affinity spaces at our school. However, according to several student leaders, this year’s affinity spaces are suffering from a lack of participation, especially in the upper school. This decrease in attendance may be due to a lack of awareness about all the different affinity spaces, as some of them are less involved in the community than others or are simply in the developmental stages. To counteract this, here is a list of the upper school affinity spaces being offered this year. Joining an affinity space is a great way to be involved in the community and to create bonds with people who can relate to aspects of your identity. It’s also totally fine to experiment with affinity spaces based on intersectionality until you find one that works for you! Feel free to contact the author of this article or the leader(s) of any respective affinity space for any needed clarification.
Leaders: Sam L. ‘24 (she/her), Rafi H. ‘25 (he/him), Soleyana M. ‘25 (she/her)
Meets: Tuesday + Friday flex in MLK
Open to: middle and upper schoolers who identify as Black/African American
This year, the Black Student Union (BSU) is led by Sam L., Rafi H., and Soleyana M. In prior years, Rafi saw the influence of other leaders and was inspired by them, so when his time came, it felt right to step into the position of leadership. Similarly, Sam wanted a platform to help build community support and recognized the access leadership offered. Like most other whole-school affinity spaces, all students are welcome on Tuesdays and only upper school students are welcome on Fridays. This year, one of Rafi’s goals is to strengthen the Black communities at Northwest by creating a safe and supportive space. Similarly, Sam wants to ensure that support for Black students is open and accessible to the community as not all students of color feel supported at Northwest. BSU doesn’t have any specific plans for days of learning (DOL) yet, but students can expect something from them closer to the event. By the end of the year, the leaders want Black students at Northwest to feel excited about returning to BSU next year and to welcome new students with open arms. Both of them want to continue creating knowledge of the Black community at Northwest so the school can better support its Black students.
Leaders: Ramses M. ‘24 (he/him), Geyciel C. ‘24 (she/her), Justin C. ‘24 (he/him), Nichole D-R. ‘24 (she/her)
Meets: Tuesday + Friday flex in Chavez
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as Latinx
The Latin American Union (LAU) is currently being led by Ramses M., Geyciel C., Justin C., and Nichole D-R. Ramses chose to lead this affinity space because he identified with it the most and felt it could help him learn about his background and the history of Latinx people. This space is open on Tuesdays to anyone who identifies as Latinx, and it is only open to upper school Latinx people on Fridays. This year, LAU would like to learn more about Latinx people and to be more involved in the community with more whole-school events. By the end of the year, LAU wants to increase attendance and recognition as an established affinity space. They would also like to host more events to leave a lasting impact on the students of Northwest. LAU encourages anyone who identifies as Latinx to attend.
Leaders: Eila P. ‘25 (she/her), Serina V. ‘25 (any pronouns), Arissa K. ‘24 (she/her), Willow M. ‘24 (she/her), and Ketil J. ‘24 (she/her)
Meets: Tuesday + Friday flex in Taussig
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander
The Asian American and Pacific Islander Affinity Group (AAPI) has five new leaders this year: Eila P., Serina V., Arissa K., Willow M., and Ketil J. Arissa decided to become a leader of AAPI because she felt that she was in touch with her Indian culture, and wanted to show the community that Asia is broader than the commonly thought of eastern Asia (China, Japan, Vietnam, etc.). Similarly, Willow wanted to create a safe space for other mixed Asian students, such as herself, which is an identity that gets glossed over. Serina agreed with the goal of broader inclusion, having joined to get more in touch with their background. Coming from a cross-culturally mixed household, Eila wanted to become a leader to represent a perspective that many people share at Northwest. This year, the leaders of AAPI would love for more people to join and to find more ways to share different cultures with their peers. They don’t have any set plans for the upcoming DOL, but they anticipate workshop leadership later on. By the end of the year, the AAPI leaders want to create a safe space where AAPI-identifying students feel they can go to be supported and have fun.
Mixed-Race Affinity Space
Leader: Nina G. ‘27 (she/her)
Meets: Friday flex in Johnson
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as mixed-race
The new leader of the Mixed-Race Affinity Space is Nina G. Nina took over this affinity space because her identity as a mixed-race person is very important to her, and she wanted to get in touch with that part of herself. The space only meets once a week to allow members to experience other spaces and to be in touch with their different identities. The space is open to both middle and upper schoolers. This year, Nina wants to expand the group and increase attendance rates. She recognizes that there can be some confusion about what being mixed race means, and she wants to help clarify the meaning of that term. For the upcoming DOL, she wants to lead a workshop and would love for someone to join her. Nina would like the school to know about Multicultural Night, an event for the school to celebrate all the cultures represented in the Northwest community. The date for this event is still to be determined. By the end of the year, Nina hopes the Mixed Race Affinity Space will be more recognized, as she feels it is currently not as well known.
Leader: Michela W. ‘24 (she/her)
Meets: Friday flex in Chomsky
Open to: Upper Schoolers who identify as white
The leader of the White Anti-Racist Learning Space (WARLS) is Michela W. Being someone who cares about social justice, Michela was a natural fit for taking over leadership of WARLS after the previous leaders graduated. This learning space is open to upper school students who are dedicated to social justice and want a safe space to learn in a non-judgmental and non-performative community. Some new activities that Michela would like to incorporate this year include attending out-of-school trainings and conferences, taking classes for leading workshops for DOL, and getting speakers to occasionally attend meetings. For the upcoming DOLs this year, Michela is planning to team up with upper school humanities teacher Kate Boyd to lead a workshop on white nationalism in the Pacific Northwest. On occasion, she would like to have “community outreach days” for watching movies or documentaries about allyship and other topics. By the end of the year, Michela would like the space to find new leaders to take over once she graduates that can continue WARLS. She wants to help create a safe space to understand and find ways to combat the racism prevalent in our society, our city, and even our school.
Leaders: Aviva L-L. ‘25 (she/her) and Lola R. ‘24 (she/they)
Meets: Tuesday and Friday flex in Lawrence-Knight
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as Jewish
The Jewish Student Union (JSU) is currently being led by Aviva L-L. ‘25 (she/her) and Lola R. ‘24 (she/they). When asked why she chose to lead this affinity space, Aviva said that when she was in 8th grade, all but one of the leaders graduated, so she was asked to lead and has been co-leading the space ever since. However, when Aviva studied abroad last year, Lola was asked to temporarily co-lead the space in her stead. When the other leader graduated, she ended up naturally taking over. While this affinity space is open to any Jewish student, being Jewish is considered self-defined, so it is open for people who actively practice Judaism, people who don’t but were born Jewish, and everything in between. This year, they want to increase interest, attendance, and comfort with attending. For DOL, the leaders have separate ideas relating to their Jewish identities. Aviva wants to lead a workshop about how communities can build back after traumatic events on a societal level, from differentiating between justice and revenge to how these events and choices are viewed by people in and out of the community. Lola wants to lead another anti-semitism and conspiracy workshop like last year, but they also want to talk about security around synagogues and Jewish events. Though this article is coming out right after the High Holy Days (the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the ten days in between them), students should keep checking their inboxes for upcoming events and celebrations, as there are always new ones just around the corner. The next big Jewish holiday coming up is Hanukkah in December. By the end of the year, the leaders want to make Jewish community members feel like they have a safe space, to make a positive change on the general school ethos, and to give back to the community while simultaneously making a space for community to build and grow.
Leaders: Katiya S. ‘24 (she/her), Jessica B. ‘24 (she/her), and Carrie (Jiayu) H. ‘24 (she/her)
Meets: Friday flex in Pythagoras
Open to: Upper schoolers who are female identifying and/or presenting
The Female Student Union (FSU) was founded and has been led by Katiya S. ‘24 (she/her), Jessica B. ‘24 (she/her), and Carrie (Jiayu) H. ‘24 (she/her). In October of 2021, Katiya got the idea for FSU from conversations she had with a variety of friends, including Jessica and Carrie. She thought that having a safe space for female/feminine-identified people to share their experiences would be important to create for the school, and Jessica and Carrie agreed. During the interview, Jessica talked about growing up with Korean anti-feminism, and how it was seen as an attack on masculinity based around mandatory militarization of young men. Carrie started talking about feminism because of an incident that happened to her that showed how dangerous downtown Seattle can be for women. This made her think about how feminist conversations could bring awareness to the movement to make places safer for women to exist. FSU meets in Pythagoras on the upper floor during Friday flex periods. Even though this space is called the Female Student Union, anyone who feels that they can relate to these experiences, including trans men and women, nonbinary people, cis women, and everyone in between, are welcome to attend. Because femininity is fluid, it is used in a self-defining way. This year, the current leaders are bringing in assistant leaders to set them up for leading the space next year when they graduate. They also plan for FSU to have more guest speakers, field trips, and to watch more documentaries or videos as an affinity space. All of the leaders also agreed on wanting to increase school-wide outreach for educating people who don’t share these experiences. This could take the form of speeches at community meetings or even holding school-wide discussions. They would also love to create some FSU merchandise with their budget. For DOL, the leaders are planning on presenting, though they don’t have any concrete ideas yet. FSU plans on hosting celebrations for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October and Women’s History month in March. By the end of the year, the leaders want to have left behind a legacy that contributes to school awareness, a platform for future leaders to share their voices, and the establishment of FSU as a lasting affinity space. They want to counter the stigmatization of feminism by showing that it isn’t taking power away from men and instead show the school that FSU has good intentions to advocate for female identifying/presenting people. They would love for more ninth and tenth graders to attend, as it is currently a mostly upperclassmen space. FASU
Leaders: Mariy M. ‘26 (she/her), Camilla L. ‘25 (she/her), Aliya W-P. ‘25, and Sylvie K. ‘25 (she/her)
Meets: Friday flex in Terry Lab
Open to: Technically upper school financial aid students (see paragraph below for details)
This year, the Financial Aid Student Union (FASU) is led by Mariy M. ‘26 (she/her), Camilla L. ‘25 (she/her), Aliya W-P. ‘25, and Sylvie K. ‘25 (she/her). They chose to lead this space because they believe that the topics of financial aid and socioeconomic status aren’t talked about enough at Northwest. While most of the students are in the top 5% of wealth status in the country, the minority are on financial aid. Because of this, financial aid and class isn’t discussed enough in our community and is often casually stigmatized. Seeing this, the leaders think it is important to create a safe space to share experiences and to create a community where they are understood. While there will be more upper school-only meetings, there will still be opportunities for middle schoolers to participate as well. This year, the leaders want to establish FASU as an active affinity space and host regular, in-school meetings to promote attendance. They are planning on leading workshops on the second and/or third DOL and hosting discussions and debates. Coming up, they want to plan some field trips that will be announced at a community meeting. By the end of the year, the leaders want to have created a space in the community where people don’t feel isolated because of class. They want to help educate and build more understanding while bringing attention to conversations that reference wealth, while promoting sensitivity and the denormalization of assumed wealth. Overall, they want to show that being on financial aid is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what sort of environment you are in.
Leaders: Alexa K. ‘29 (she/her) and Payton M. ‘29 (she/her)
Meets: Tuesday flex in the Drawing Studio
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as LGBTQ+ or are unlabeled/questioning
Q-Club’s current leaders are Alexa K. and Payton M. Alexa was interested in doing more for the community and decided to become a new leader. Payton decided to lead with her because she wanted a space where she could be represented and thought that it would be easier to lead with someone else. For National Pronoun Day on October 18th, the leaders want to design something to replace the flawed “Gender Unicorn” diagram commonly used for understanding gender identity, expression, and more. They are also planning on increasing school outreach with activities like bake sales and whole-school celebrations around pride month. For DOL, Alexa and Payton would like to lead a workshop for spreading awareness about the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. By the end of the year, they want to have made Q-Club into a safe space for people to learn about gender and sexuality and how it relates to their own identities while also providing them a place to process their feelings. They also want to be able to involve allies more to learn together.
Neurodivergent Affinity Space
Leader: Axel M. ‘24 (he/they)
Meets: Tuesday flex in Learning Resource Center
Open to: Middle and upper schoolers who identify as neurodivergent
Axel M. is the new leader of the Neurodivergent Affinity Space. Neurodivergence is defined as a type of mental or neurological functioning, usually relating to attention, mood, processing, and more, that differs from the “typical” way of functioning. Examples of this are autism, ADHD, down syndrome, dyslexia, and more. Axel, who identifies as neurodivergent, wanted to create a safe space for neurodivergent people at the school and saw this affinity space as a platform to do that. This year, Axel wants to have more opportunities to change how the school treats neurodivergent students. Coming up, there may be some fundraising to help provide alternate food options for neurodivergent students who struggle with specific food textures. By the end of the year, he wants to have helped make people feel more comfortable with neurodivergence in school.
Indigenous Affinity Group
Leader: Tatiwyat B. ‘25 (she/her)
Open to: Middle and Upper Schoolers who identify as Indigenous
The Indigenous Affinity Group is led by Tatiwyat B. When she joined Northwest, she felt isolated as one of the only Indigenous students at the school. Because of this, it felt important to her to start a space for bringing attention to the Indigenous community. Unlike most of the other affinity spaces, the Indigenous Affinity Group doesn’t regularly meet due to a lack of Indigenous people at the school. The affinity space was originally meant just for Indigenous students However, Tatiwyat is working on broadening the term of Indigeneity at Northwest to extend beyond the First Nations people to possibly include Native Hawaiians or anyone else who has historically had similar experiences to that of First Nations peoples. On May 5th, there will be a public honoring of the missing and murdered Indigenous women across the nation, though the details are to be determined. At the end of the year, Tatiwyat wants to shine a light onto what it means to be Indigenous. She would like to include a focus on modern Indigeneity in curriculum instead of the fixation on the past.
Leaders: Austin Z. ‘25 (he/him), Yifei L. ‘24 (she/her), Rocky Z. ‘24 (he/him), and Kevin T. ‘24 (he/him)
Open to: International students
This year’s leaders of the International Student Union (ISU) are Austin Z., Yifei L., Rocky Z., and Kevin T. Unlike other affinity spaces, ISU doesn’t usually meet. Instead, it is more of a student-led department for international students to talk about their needs and wants. On occasion, leaders meet and talk with Dmitry S., the faculty leader of ISU and the head of the international department, to convey student needs. This year, ISU wants to have more school-wide activities like the annual Mid-Autumn Festival to promote the recognition and celebration of different cultures. For the upcoming DOL, ISU might meet during affinity space-time and hold some sort of activity, though the specifics have yet to be decided. By the end of the year, ISU wants the school to notice international students and help them through the year with accessibility and general support. Austin talked about how coming to a new country can be isolating, so helping international students join the community is very important. ISU is also looking for three or four new leaders to take over next year.
This concludes the list of upper school affinity spaces this year. After reading this, hopefully, more students will pick an affinity space to try.