By Your Side expands influence throughout country, remains virtual

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Image: Courtesy of Madison Heller.

Candice Anvari staff writer 

Although second semester included the transition back to school, the By Your Side club members quickly adjusted to the transition and moved forward to accomplish their goals of expanding their influence. 

According to its mission statement, By Your Side “fosters supportive communities of students with and without special needs, and commits to promoting friendships, social empowerment, and awareness of developmental diversity at all levels of education.” 

This semester, the club succeeded in expanding its program to schools in both Northern California and the Midwest. 

“By Your Side is simple in conception, yet powerful in its impact. After witnessing the magic of By Your Side at Beverly, we realized that we could spread the program to other schools,” club president senior Madison Heller said. “Starting the expansion process in 2018 wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our amazing By Your Side ambassadors— individuals that pitch By Your Side to faculty at their school, roll out the program and ensure our mission stays consistent at their By Your Side branch. In Oakland, we are running at a small private school, The College Preparatory School, and in the Midwest, are present at a public high school. 

Similarly, senior Aidan Dverin believes that expanding By Your Side was a “great” group effort. 

“I hope that moving forward By Your Side continues to bring people together and form new friendships,” Dverin said. “I really feel that By Your Side is a special group that makes everyone feel included.

Due to the transition to in-person learning, Heller provided an inclusive space for club members by keeping the meetings virtual.  

“Inclusivity is a priority for us. In order to avoid excluding anyone who felt unsafe returning to school, we held all BYS meetings and events virtually. This gave all members — whether virtual or in-person — an opportunity to participate each week,” Heller said. “We’ve had an excellent turnout for which I’m grateful. 

Junior Liza Bell “loved” coming to By Your Side meetings to see her friends and take a break from the school day. 

“My friends are nice to me. They’re my best friends. I love [them],” Bell said.  

Although Heller is a graduating senior, she believes that the friendships she made in By Your Side will follow her in college. 

“As I leave Beverly, I am certain the By Your Side friendships that I’ve made will last a lifetime. I look forward to continuing working on By Your Side development and expansion after graduation, as By Your Side has become a huge part of who I am,” Heller said. “My favorite part of By Your Side this year was witnessing the program’s resiliency in providing normalcy, continuity and love in the face of an uncertain world.”  

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