Two years ago, the co-chairs of QUEST (Upper School Gender and Sexuality Alliance) Alicja Farber and Jenifer Bonilla approached Head of School Bob Whelan with an opportunity. The two students wanted to turn one of the crosswalks at GFA into a rainbow, hoping to make a clear statement that LGBTQ+ students are known and loved in this community.
With Whelan’s OK, the plans were made — and then COVID-19 hit.
When the club finally resumed in-person meetings at the start of the 2021–22 school year, advisor Betsy Bergeron put the idea back on the table in preparation for October’s LGBTQ+ History month. “We wanted to do something to make it obvious that the LGBTQ+ community belongs at GFA,” Farber shared.
“Throughout my time in QUEST, we’ve always talked about visibility,” Bonilla added. “This is a step toward more opportunities. We had instant confirmation from Mr. Whelan that he’s on board to make it known around the school that GFA supports LGBTQ+ students.”
After meeting with Grounds Manager Tom Barry and Director of Campus Master Planning and Engineering Ray Weaver, Bonilla and Farber watched the idea come to life. “[Barry and Weaver] were immediately on board and said, ’We’re going to make this happen,’” Bonilla explained.
While visibility continues to be the club’s greatest challenge, the students are finding hope and opportunity with the completion of their latest project. With the increase in performative activism in today’s political landscape, the goal remained that this crosswalk would not be “just” a crosswalk.
“QUEST has a lot of programming,” Farber explained. “The crosswalk differs because it is this permanent feature and it’s something that even if we’re not there to talk about it, people see it as an important sign of what the school stands behind and stands with. It’s also a step toward more important initiatives for QUEST at the school.”
According to QUEST Club Advisor Betsy Bergeron, Bonilla and Farber have established themselves as partners with the student community and the community at large. She remarked, “They have become wonderful leaders of QUEST. Under their guidance all of the members of the club had a hand in this project. It is so exciting to see their efforts pay off in such a visible way. I am so proud.”
Bergeron’s sentiment was shared by Whelan, whose front window looks out at the crosswalk.
“We believe that creating opportunities for our students to lead is a critical part of their development — it helps them realize the power of their own voices and see firsthand that they can effect positive change,” he said. “This effort is another example of the partnership our mission describes, the positive leadership that Jen and Allie model every day, and the meaningful difference GFA students make in the life of our school community.”