By mid-March, many second semester seniors have serious cases of senioritis, cruising through the home stretch of their high school careers as they prepare to head off to college.
Senior Didi Shiloh, however, is far from checking out as she approaches graduation.
“I’m president of the GSA, president of Project Support, which works with disabled students at the high school, a SGORR leader, and a member of Write On for Israel,” said Shiloh as she counted off the activities one by one on her fingers. “As well as a member of Jumpstart, an LGBT leadership group, and the Student Safe Advocacy Senate. Oh, and New Stages! Am I forgetting anything? I’d feel awful!”
Judging from her lengthy resume and community involvement, you might think Didi had attended Shaker schools all her life, but that’s not the case. Joining the Raider student body as a sophomore, Didi has since made her mark on the community through her ever-growing list of meaningful clubs and activities, especially in her work as president of the Shaker GSA. “I’m really trying to bring in a well-rounded curriculum to GSA,” said Didi, who estimates that the GSA has 12 to 15 regular members, a number up from last year’s membership.
Didi’s efforts have brought diverse speakers to GSA meetings this year. Shaker GSA alumni have spoken about their transition to college. Shiloh’s girlfriend and Strongsville GSA leader Savannah Sherman told members about her efforts to persuade Strongsville schools to drop Chick-Fil-A fundraising activities because of the company’s stance on marriage rights. The singer /manager duo Diana Chittester and Jessica Rosenblatt shared insights about their lives in the music business.
Despite this success, Didi still sees room for the GSA to grow. “We have very few allies,” she said. “My goal aside from outreach is to increase education, because the downfall of the LGBT community is ignorance.”
Didi did not always live in a diverse community such as Shaker Heights. Her older sister met opposition when trying to start a GSA comprising four members at West Geauga High School. “West Geauga is primarily white, conservative Christian, so there’s pretty much no open mindedness,” she said. “My parents raised me super liberal, so I fit right in at Shaker.”
Didi’s work as president of Project Support, a club that meets once a month to bring activities and interactions for Shaker students in special education, has also been a success. “Didi’s been phenomenal,” said special education teacher and Project Support adviser Jessica Wilkes. “Didi actually came up with most of the ideas for our activities this year. We’ve done a dance party and watched movies, and [the students] love the interaction with people.”
With such a widespread spectrum of interests and activities, it’s natural to wonder how Didi is able to manage her time. “I totally believe in productivity coming from activity. I have a million and a half things I’m doing, and I have to juggle it all, but I can do it,” she said. “I would say I haven’t wasted a single drop of time lately.”
After high school, Didi hopes to study neuropsychology combined with gender research. Her LGBT activism will persist. She said, “It’s fascinating to me and I’ll never stop asking questions.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 26 March 2013, on page 11 of The Shakerite.