A new club has been added to the collection of different clubs offered at AAHS. It is a support group for the LGBT+ community and its supporters. This club is called Spectrum.
Senior Dustin Jones, the creator and student adviser of Spectrum club, first came to AAHS at the beginning of last school year.
“When I first moved to Altoona slightly before the start of the last school year, the main reason I wanted to come transfer to Altoona was because I thought that the school district offered a club specifically developed and designed for the LGBT community. When I came to the school, I found out that was not the case,” Jones said.
Spectrum has not yet made a meeting schedule. Listen to the announcements for upcoming meetings.
Jones asked social studies teacher Jeff Guyer to be the faculty adviser for his new club and senior project.
“Dustin Jones came to me with his idea and plan for a new club for part of his senior project but needed a faculty adviser. I thought this was a great opportunity to open up a resource for a specific population of AAHS that did not have a specific support group. Our building offers wonderful services for our students such as the SAIT program and Aevidum, however this was a change to open up another outlet for students seeking education and support. In sociology, which is one of the courses I teach, we have units that specifically get into things areas like stratification, hate crime and inequality. So, it felt like a natural fit and opportunity to educate,” Guyer said.
Jones formerly attended Penn Cambria and moved here hoping for a positive change.
“I felt ‘alone’ at Penn Cambria. I had no actual friends and I absolutely hated going to school. I thought Altoona would be the change I needed, and I was right,” Jones said.
Jones felt that it was his responsibility to make sure students of the community had an LGBT+ community support group offered at the high school.
“I made Spectrum for two reasons. One of the main reasons why I moved here is because I thought an LGBT club already existed, but I was wrong. So, I felt like it was my duty to make what I want a reality,” Jones said.
The club mainly provides educational support and support in general.
“This club has multiple goals. First and foremost from my perspective is education and support. I try to inform students about advances in the LGBT community. For example in this last election there were multiple transgender candidates that got elected to public office. We want to be a group that can support all members of the building while promoting diversity and acceptance,” Guyer said.
Not only does this club help the community, but it also is Jones’s senior project.
“My senior project is about suicide in the LGBT community, and I decided to combine my research with that of having a positive impact on the reduction of suicide and for members of my community to feel accepted and comfortable with who they are. Also to see if having an outlet of like-minded individuals would have a positive influence on their education as well as social skills, while also having a decrease of suicide in the local LGBT community,” Jones said.
The club is not just for those of the LGBT+ community. Supporters of the community can also join the club.
“Spectrum is a support group for members of the LGBT+ community and supporters. Anyone who wants to know more about the community, is a part of the community, or even supports the LGBT+ community is more than welcome to join, as long as they follow all of the points mentioned in my bylaws approved by the school board, and respect each other and especially myself, since again this is my senior project, and I do not want anyone to feel shamed or threatened for being who they are,” Jones said.
The club can also decrease the chance of students attempting or committing suicide by providing a support group that students can confide in.
“I feel like everyone in the AASD should join Spectrum and show their support for the LGBT+ community and also show and prove that suicide is never an option,” Jones said.
“Spectrum is a place where everyone can be who they are without feeling ashamed, outed, embarrassed or alone. Everyone supports everyone and you do not have to be gay to join this LGBT+ based club,” Jones said.
Spectrum club is a brand new club, and it is already growing.
“Spectrum club currently has more than 50 members and is still getting support. More people are becoming interested because suicide is a serious topic, especially within the LGBT+ community,” Jones said.
Jones and Guyer will always be accepting newcomers into the club.
“As long as you pose no threat to any of the members, yourself, and follow the bylaws, everyone, including students, faculty or staff, administrators, etc., are more than welcome to join,” Jones said.
“We are a new club and essentially in the infancy stage, but are continuing to evolve into a program that hopefully makes a large impact for students. For any more information please feel free to see me in B-203,” Guyer said.