Read all About it- Skyline´s Black Student Union



Breaking historical bounds, the Black Student Union is the first of its kind at Skyline High School. Founded by Valencia Mccarthy, a junior, just this year, the club provides an outlet for promoting diversity and inclusion in all surroundings and backgrounds. 

“I have always thought of doing it, and just thought I would go about it, taking a risk in starting something this bold,” says Founder and President Valencia Mccarthy.  It was a lot of outside noise that made Mccarthy second and triple guess in starting BSU, but she decided that there was no need to adhere to those “don’t do it” voices and struck them down completely.  “I guess I just thought that there would be so much backlash in starting a club like this, especially at a school, or even a state like Utah,” she continues, “But I was really surprised at the outcome!” Referring to the process of getting the club initiated, she states, “Mundt [Skyline assistant principal] is the one who is in charge of the club-making process.  When  I told him I wanted to start this, he said, ‘Oh! I was part of a Black Student Union when I was in college,’ It really surprised me that he said that, but it felt gratifying in a way…that there are many people who already support it, even when it was just in its beginning stages.”  For every club at Skyline High School, there must be a teacher advisor. For the Black Student Union, Valencia McCarthy chose none other than Jill Thackeray, the school’s IB coordinator and English teacher.  “I just had her this year, so it was only a few weeks that I knew her that I already got a good feeling that she was the person,”  Mccarthy says, “I asked her and she immediately said ‘of course,’ I am just so grateful for her role in this [initiative].”

“There was never a club like this in my high school,¨ says Jill. Thackeray.  “There were only three black kids in my high school. And with that, not much representation was given to that group,” she says. Thackeray has been a teacher at Skyline for most of her career, 23 years and counting. “The culture has definitely shifted from when I first started here,”  she says, “There has definitely been a lot more diversity throughout the years.” She adheres that shift in diversity with the International Baccalaureate Program and feels strongly that the Black Student Union will help even further that commitment to inclusivity.  ” I have always been interested in Black America…a first-year college student who didn’t even want to be here,” she says. Thackeray lived in Utah all her life and for her, she wanted to leave for college. “I was just very unhappy about the whole thing but then my professors, Ron Scott and Wilford Samuels,  really changed that for me.  They really built my confidence as a writer and made me realize the diversity that Utah does have.”  Scott and Ellis had such an influence on Thackeray that it affected what she wanted to teach in her IB and AP English classes. “I vowed that when I decided  to become a teacher that I would make sure I taught [Black American] poetry and prose and nonfiction…that I would include those in my curriculum because it just has not been included.” She goes on,  “We, [Skyline teachers] have for a while come together and wished there was a club like this at Skyline,” she continues, “But, of course, the students have to come up with it, we can only direct.”  “It’s been a time coming and we are all super excited about  it.”

Valencia Mccarthy has already much on the agenda for the school club. “The  Black Menances are coming down….we are going to watch the new Black Panther movie…we are going to make food, go to food trucks to support black businesses, she continues, we are going to collab with other minority clubs  such as Pride Club, Asian Appreication,  and Chinese club…we have planned so much that it’s kind of hard to name it all,” she says with a laugh. 

The Black Student Union meets every 2nd and 4th Friday from 2:30 pm to 3:30 in room 122, Ms. Thackeray’s room.

 With even all the fun things in store, Mccarthy wants to make one thing clear. “This is a club for everyone. It’s just a community to get to know each other, see what it’s like!¨