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The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Concord-Carlisle Regional High School

The Voice

Concord-Carlisle High School's Student Newspaper

CCHS Spectrum’s 30th Anniversary

A Colorful Birthday of Pride

One look at the vibrant myriad of pride shirts in celebration of Concord-Carlisle High School’s Spectrum Club is enough to conclude that Spectrum is more than a club or even a coalition: it is a community of passionate adults and students with commitment, tenacity, and most of all, with hope. 

Spectrum, which is currently lead by faculty advisors Bee Loprete and Ben Kendall, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary as CCHS’ gender and sexuality alliance (GSA) on the evening of January 24. The event was a moment of celebration and gratitude for the progress that has been made in LGBTQ+ rights both within and outside of the education system. For the alumni and former teachers of CCHS who laid the foundation for Spectrum three decades ago, it was a full-circle moment to witness the project continuing to thrive with the invigorated spirits of a new generation. At the same time, the speakers took the opportunity to urge the community to recognize the work that remains to be done.   

Stephen Lane, a CCHS social studies teacher and published author, opened the presentation with a thoughtful reflection on the history of LGBTQ+ movements in the education system from his 2018 book No Sanctuary: Teachers and the School Reform That Brought Gay Rights to the Masses. He described that “too often, people in positions of authority [succumb] to the temptation to avoid controversy,” leaving a “space between the authority and the need for leadership” that has prompted the rise of student GSAs. In Massachusetts in particular, the testimony and unrelenting rallying of students was “the deciding voice” in policies such as the Massachusetts Safe Schools program and the 1993 amendment to the Student Civil Rights bill that added protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

CCHS social studies teacher and author Stephen Lane speaking at the Spectrum 30th Anniversary celebration.

Both students and adults emphasized that each milestone has come after tedious periods of fighting – fighting for recognition, respect, and forward progress. Lane cites musician Brontez Purnell to highlight that even today, “the queer community still [needs] places to be and still [needs] to be ready to defend.” And now, for 30 years, “Spectrum has been that place and the students of Spectrum have been the ones ready to defend it simply by being that kind of place,” says Lane. 

Spectrum was also honored by Representative Simon Cataldo, a graduate of CCHS himself, who presented club co-presidents Ben Neville (’24) and Alex Nugent (’24) with a citation from the Massachusetts State House. He further noted that his experience with the prior activism of Nugent and Neville has led him to believe that “if this is the future of this movement and of our society, then we’re going to be in really good shape.”

Representative Simon Cataldo presenting club presidents Ben Neville and Alex Nugent with a citation from the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Nugent and Neville both spoke about Spectrum’s frequent activism, from numerous walkouts to educating the school community about historical events. The students of Spectrum have displayed their immense courage by standing up in the face of opposition and backlash, including claims of indoctrination surrounding LGBTQ+ issues and protests against pride events. Nugent expresses, “We do a lot in the community trying to raise awareness and spread positivity because… homophobic and transphobic actions [are] ramping up in our community.” Citing the alarmingly high rates of sexuality-related abuse, suicides, and other traumatic experiences, Neville adds that “try as you might, you’re not going to make these kids happy by giving them a safe space that they [can] go to once a week or once a month… You need to give them something more. You need to give them hope that things are going to change.” 

Lane captures the continuing significance and legacy of Spectrum when he tells students, “You’ll be asked to convince fearful people to join you; you’ll be asked to face down others who, out of their own blindness or anger or insecurity, will oppose you.” But, despite the unfairness of asking the “students to lead the fight” once again, he concludes, “We ask this… because there’s nobody better.”

Spectrum faculty advisors Bee Loprete and Ben Kendall and co-presidents Ben Neville and Alex Nugent.
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Felicity Zhang, Junior Co-Editor-In-Chief
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