Allies Not Bystanders Adjusts to Meet Students’ Needs

Clay Belmarsh and Henry Gates

With the country’s current social climate, there are many organizations working to create a society where everyone feels safe to express themselves. This is exactly why Allies Not Bystanders (ANB) was established as a club at Scituate High School. Restructured in 2019 to be more interactive with the student body, the club’s co-presidents, seniors Rosie Tyrcha and Emma Huggins, do a phenomenal job of advising underclassmen as they promote inclusion and empathy. 

SHS junior Patrick Sullivan, who is an officer for the club, provided an inside look at the club and what goes on behind the scenes. According to Sullivan, the purpose of the club is to “promote inclusivity, happiness, and good mental health.” ANB has been making strides toward these key values in a few different ways.

ANB representatives visit high school and middle school classrooms to facilitate student discussions on racism, prejudice, gender issues, mental health, and other important topics. Sullivan said these conversations emphasize “how the things that people say have an effect on others.” In particular, ANB tries to help students understand how even simple words can have a profound impact. 

During this challenging academic year, members of ANB worked with the school community to spread their message. Tyrcha said, “We did the best we could with the little contact and time we had.” Recognizing the specific needs of students during the pandemic, Tyrcha updated the ANB curriculum so it was more relevant: The club’s work emphasized supporting one another through difficulties and loneliness while creating a Covid-safe, welcoming environment.

According to Sullivan, members of the club “went around the town during quarantine writing ‘stay happy’ in different places, and other community outreach activities like that.” 

Describing different obstacles the club encountered during the pandemic, Sullivan said members “couldn’t be in-person teaching the freshmen this year, so we had to create a whole new curriculum within a month or two.” Consequently, the club held meetings on Zoom and modified the way they spread their message. According to Sullivan, club members had to “roll with the punches and make the best of the situation.”

Tyrcha emphasized the importance of social media, as the club currently runs an Instagram account (@scituate_anb), which facilitates communication and promotes the club’s mission and goals.

Looking beyond 2021, Tyrcha and Sullivan hope the club will be passed down to generations of SHS students who “keep up the message of inclusivity, try to help people understand the causes and effects of bullying, and expand the club by recruiting new members.”