New student support group, Real Talk, is now available to all students

Juliana Myers

In early October, paraprofessional Andrae Smith and social worker Sara Sumner started an open group with the intention of creating a comfortable and safe space to talk about sensitive and potentially controversial topics called Real Talk.

“My goal for real talk is all about the culture and to bring some real culture to this school, open peoples minds and hearts to let them see the world in a better light,” Sumner said.

Real Talk exceeded initial expectations and has expanded to the point where Smith and Sumner have begun discussing offering hours after school for students to come to Real Talk if they want to.

“It was just a pilot, we were just going to see if we even had students who would want to give up their lunch and be in a structured place without technology, so we were not really sure how it would turn out,” Sumner said.

The students have had talks about racism, sexuality, friendship, and other topics participants deem important. In order to foster the supportive dynamic, there have been activities like friendsgiving and a spelling bee. Real Talk is held every A day during lunch in the green room and is open to all. It is important to the advisors that everyone in the room is comfortable with saying how they feel and giving their opinions without having to worry about being judged.

“I feel Real Talk is a comfortable environment because over the past month everyone who goes to it has built a sense of community and family and we can trust each other. I would definitely encourage other students to come join because it’s a chance to be open and free to speak, as well as a great opportunity to meet a lot of new people you otherwise would never know,” senior Mionna White said.

Real Talk has created a diverse group of students that face a variety of problems together rather than alone. It is a place where students can be themselves and feel like they belong. Within the group, many have been exposed to different cultures and identities. When friendsgiving occurred, students brought in all types of different foods including foods from Hispanic, Jamaican, and Brazilian cultures among others. This experience gave students a chance to have fun and socialize as well as try new foods.

Most of the time the topics discussed are deep and students are willing to share their personal experiences which can cause emotions to run high. With these, at times serious topics, the group provides students a chance to talk and be there for each other.

“I believe Real Talk is a safe space because the teachers are very supportive and very open with what they let us talk about, but at the same time some days it can be a little tense and awkward. Overall though it really is a safe place,” senior Salvatore Farrell said. Smith and Sumner have plans to grow and even expand the amount of activities the group can participate in. To get involved you can stop by the STEP room in room 601 or just drop into the green room any A day during lunch.