Born on the heels of frustration, the Justice and Equity for Students club continued to grow from senior Livia Loverso's quest for a more inclusive and equitable world.
"Last summer, when George Floyd was murdered and the Black Lives Matter movement had a real resurgence, a few of my friends and I felt like we didn't know what to do with ourselves; we felt like nothing we did was enough," Livia said.
The moment pushed Livia to stop just listening and start taking action.
"We really wanted to make this place somewhere that everybody feels safe and comfortable and heard, so we talked about how Freshman Seminar classes can be an educational resource for learning more about people's cultures and identities — a place of acceptance, appreciation, and love," Livia said.
The conversation led Livia to examine how Gibbons' students can be more anti-racist, inclusive and accepting. She began working behind the scenes to help organize speakers, launch a book club and add more diverse books to the school library.
"Liv played a vital role in making Justice and Equity for Students (JEFS) such a success in our first year as a club," said club Clay Thomas, moderator of Justice and Equity for Students. "More than the leader of a club — Liv helped lead a movement. Gibbons has become and will remain a more equitable and welcoming community because of her leadership, vision, and voice."
Livia is working to find a way to expand Justice and Equity for Students and plans to connect with elementary schools in Chapel Hill.
"Part of my mission with this coalition is to spread it wide," she said. "I think the younger you start being aware of your peers' backgrounds and how to interact with each other - it really impacts how you view the world."
Finding her voice
Outside of Justice and Equity for students, Livia is active in Gibbons Drama, a passion that helped develop her leadership skills.
"It has really pushed me to take advantage of the opportunity to influence and inspire others," she said. "There are so many great opportunities to participate in leadership here."
Livia has been involved in theater since she was just seven years old, but when she first came to Gibbons, it took a little while to find her footing. By her junior year, she stepped out of her comfort zone and felt at home on the stage.
She'll continue her acting career with a minor in dramatic art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she'll begin her freshman year this fall. An avid reader, Livia credits her Gibbons English teachers with inspiring her to major in comparative literature.
Senior year during the pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Livia found herself with growing anxiety. She decided to seek help and added medication to her routine.
"I have horrible social anxiety, but I'm also a naturally social and outgoing person, so it has really helped," she said.
Despite the stresses of COVID, Livia has been able to find moments of joy in the time she has had with friends — from football games to the Senior Picnic. And, she's looking forward to graduation in the Gibbons Football Stadium, a rare occurrence that makes the end of a challenging year sweeter.
"It's really special and exciting," she said.
Livia's parting words of wisdom for incoming freshmen — talk to everyone.
"The more friends you'll have, the more fun you'll have," Livia said. "I just don't think there's such a thing as too many friends."