Every day while transitioning classes I get a glimpse of the Urban Lifestyles Club poster that is beautifully displayed between the 1st and 2nd floor staircase. To get more insight on the club, I decided to have a one-on-one interview with the founder of the club, Ms. Shakira Hinton, who is also the beloved financial literacy and business teacher here at METS Charter School, Jersey City Campus.
The METronome: In detail, what is Urban Lifestyles Club and what sparked the idea to develop the club?
Ms. Hinton: Students basically talk about issues that they may be having within the school, things they would like to do as far as travel wise, we come up different types of community service ideas and topics that they can create different workshops and actually teach younger kids. The club ranges from freshman to sophomore, but the majority of the members are sophomores. They develop different topics to have host workshops for middle school kids. This is a places where the students can really express themselves outside of school and not be judged on certain stuff.
The METronome: What is the purpose of Urban Lifestyles Club and what goal is to be achieved by creating this club?
Ms. Hinton: The purpose is for the students to have a safe space because sometimes they don’t want to go home and talk to their parents, so that’s why I’m here. I have students come to me throughout the day venting about certain types of issues — I try to give them different ways to navigate throughout the rest of their day, through their frustration and some stuff that they don’t understand so that they won’t get in trouble. The goal is for the students to be able to teach each other, so if a friend or someone else maybe going through the same issues they went through they can give them different ideas or a different perspective on certain situations.
The METronome: Do the members of the Urban Lifestyles Club converse? If so when? Where? And, most importantly, what is it that the club discusses?
Ms. Hinton: The members of the club converse every Tuesday on Thursday from 3-4 in Room 203. Some of them are friends, I have about 20 members, so when they meet in here it’s more like a family environment and everyone just talks.
The METronome: How would a METS Charters School student, who is interested in joining the Urban Lifestyles Club, be able to join? Are there any requirements?
Ms. Hinton: This past month (April 16, 2019) we closed the enrollment because of the adviser-to-student ratio. So I will probably have a waitlist so if certain students happen to join another club and they’re not able to come here, I would have students waiting on the waitlist.
Along with having an enlightening conversation with Ms.Hinton, I also was granted the opportunity to sit down with three members of Urban Lifestyles Club.
Raymond Calderon, a sophomore, said, “This is the best club so far, I haven’t joined any other club but this one. We try different things that other students can’t, especially if they don’t join the club. I liked how the poster was written out and how it talked about the club, so I came. There are also a few people that I know here too, so I thought it was going to be interesting and it is interesting. Being here all the time is my goal in this club because we usually talk about interesting stuff.”
Christhy Manon, a sophomore, added, “The Urban Lifestyles Club is a club where students are able to discuss social issues like bullying, gang violence, social media issues and stuff like that. Also In this club you can vent and talk about our personal problems. I want to be able to motivate people to join the club and be able to talk more to people about anything going on with them.”
And finally, Emily Cardona, a sophomore, said, “Urban Lifestyles Club is a club that unites the teens to talk about what their problems are and it helps us encourage what we want to do in life and determine our goals. The club also brings us together more because us teens still have trouble talking to adults so we can talk to each other about our own problems and solve each others problems”.
Emily continued, “I think it will help us stop being afraid of speaking out. I joined because I liked what Ms. Hinton was going to do with the club, where she talks about our problems and problems that are happening now in our neighborhood. I want to actually solve problems and help others and see that we can make a difference in each other and stop all the topics that we are going to talk about like bullying, violence and fighting.”