Brisamar Lopez: Diversity leads to understanding
Brisamar Lopez wasn’t the nicest kid.
She’d tell you that herself.
“I could be pretty rude and make the meanest side comments,” said Lopez, a senior at Glenwood Springs High School.
Her teachers affirm that. Kayla Thomson recalls Lopez’s first day in freshman math. Thomson goes over her classroom rules at the beginning of each school year and invites the students to share feedback.
Lopez raised her hand: “What if we just don’t like you?”
Rather than bristling, Thomson asked Lopez to tell her more. Within a month, Lopez was spending her lunches in Thomson’s classroom.
Even if she skipped the rest of the school day, she would attend math.
That’s become even more common since the school’s Diversity Club launched last year. Thomson asked Lopez to join the club, and she ended up becoming a founding member. The experience has helped her become a better version of herself.
“I was really segregated from the other students” before, Lopez said. She dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety — and her depression was severe enough that it resulted in hospitalization. Her grades also suffered.
But the club helped her make friends, said Lopez, who has lived in Glenwood Springs for four years.
“Diversity Club showed me how [mean comments] are what actually hurt me and made me go more into depression,” she said. “Diversity Club has showed me that wasn’t right.”
It’s also taught her about other cultures. Although Lopez was born in California, her parents are from Mexico. She’s never visited their hometown, but Diversity Club has taught her about Mexican culture — and Chinese culture, and different holidays, and more.
“I really like the differences. Each culture has something unique to offer everyone,” she said.
Her teachers have seen the difference, too.
“She knows her role is important,” said Brittany Spangler. “Knowing she’s valued is huge.”
Now, the teenager who once challenged her teacher is the first to sign up for any Diversity Club event. Lopez designed the club’s T-shirts and handmade posters to promote its new game day. She’s planning to attend college, and her teachers are proud of the difference.
“She’s the first one to show up for whatever we do,” Thomson said.
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