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  • Amy smiles

    Amy was accepted to Shabazz as a sophomore after attending La Follette High School during freshman year.

  • Shabazz welcome sign

    Amy had friends who had already transferred to Shabazz. "They told me that it was a great place to learn alternatively. It was small and a very tight-knit community."

  • Amy in shadow

    Amy also completed a college course at Madison through Youth Options, a program that allows public high school juniors and seniors to take postsecondary courses for college credit.

  • Shabazz exterior

    Amy says, “I like to see [Shabazz] as a tree. But Shabazz isn’t the Giving Tree where it gives and gives and gives until it wears out. Shabazz relies on you, the community, to do your part, to pull your weight."

  • Shabazz school sign

    "It never hurts to interview and to shadow [at Shabazz]. It might change your life like it changed mine.”

  • Amy smiles

    In the fall, Amy is headed to Lawrence University in Appleton.

Amy calls the day they* first visited Malcolm Shabazz City High School as a prospective student "probably one of the best days of my life….I felt so included and loved by everyone around me, even though I didn’t even go to school there. I got to spend time with people I probably never would have met or thought to hang out with." (*Amy is gender-nonconforming and prefers the pronouns they, them, their.)

Amy was accepted as a sophomore after attending La Follette High School freshman year. "I transferred to Shabazz because even though I was doing very well academically, I didn’t really have any friends."

Some friends had already transferred to Shabazz. "They told me that it was a great place to learn alternatively. It was small and a very tight-knit community." When Amy’s mother learned of their interest, she was thrilled. "She was trying to push me there from the beginning, even though I didn’t really connect the dots," Amy says.

At Shabazz, Amy joined Spoken Word Club, where students write poetry and spoken word pieces. "We’ll get a topic and have to write a poem in 5 minutes or 10 minutes and then we’ll share all of them." In the audio clip below, Amy talks about some favorite poets and why their works are so meaningful to them.

Amy also took advantage of the school’s many fine arts courses, including visual arts, poetry and theater. They also completed a college course at Madison through Youth Options, a program that allows public high school juniors and seniors to take postsecondary courses for college credit.

As a member of GSAFE’s (Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools) Youth Leadership Board, Amy helped guide, design and implement GSAFE programming. "We give insight into what school is like. Our job is to essentially say, ‘This is what’s happening in schools and these are solutions that we, as youth who are attending the schools, think can help.’"

One easy thing students and staff can do to promote safe, welcoming schools is simply to "be respectful of what people are going through," Amy says, believing that no matter your age, there is always something to learn. Here more on that in the audio clip below.

Amy is also involved in Proud Theater, a volunteer-based youth organization that focuses on activism through art and theater for LGBTQ and allied youth — "youth who are not LGBTQ but who actively support the LGBT community," Amy explains.

In the fall, Amy is headed to Lawrence University in Appleton. "I’m not sure what I’m going to study yet but I know that I will figure it out. I have some ideas."

Amy offers this advice to students thinking of applying to Shabazz: "It never hurts to interview and to shadow. It might change your life like it changed my life, as long as you are committed to making the community a safe place for yourself and others….I like to see [Shabazz] as a tree. But Shabazz isn’t the Giving Tree where it gives and gives and gives until it wears out. Shabazz relies on you, the community, to do your part, to pull your weight."

To hear Amy discuss the reason behind their decision to use gender-neutral pronouns and why it’s meaningful to them and others, listen below.

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