Pumas 4 Pumas: spreading inclusion to make social distancing not feel as distant


Photo taken by Lindsay Taylor

Junior Sammy Cristerna, Pumas 4 Pumas club president, is gathering with the other member and discussing their upcoming plans and activities this year. Pumas 4 Pumas has been preparing since the beginning of the year to accomplish their mission of establishing inclusion across Perry High School.

During this time of seclusion and self-isolation, it is common for people to feel lonely or overwhelmed. With this thought in mind, a group of students known as Pumas 4 Pumas, formerly recognized as the Lunch Bunch, is working to change this and spread inclusion to make socially distancing not feel as distant. 

Pumas 4 Pumas is a club that was originally created by Junior Sammy Cristerna, along with a few of his friends last year under the name, the Lunch Bunch. Cristerna, Pumas 4 Pumas club president, explains, “Our purpose is to connect the student body and promote mental health and awareness.” In a time where stress is at its peak, Cristerna and the other members of this club are hoping to construct a path forward with empathy and love.

Initially, this group of students began by providing everyone a seat at a table during lunch for those that did not have anyone to sit with, but Holli Cagle, school guidance counselor and Pumas 4 Pumas advisor, explains, “we decided to change our name and broaden our mission statement.” With such an ambitious goal in mind, there are a few steps the members are planning to take to try and make their mission into reality. The Pumas 4 Pumas club is organizing a partnership with ASU and discussing not only how to deal with mental health, but how to assist others that may be having a difficult time. 

Although it was not announced until just recently, the creators of this organization have been preparing since the end of last year. The club’s intention was to reveal their new title during the fourth quarter of last year, but with all of the complications and obstacles that the coronavirus provided, they were not able to return before the school year had concluded.

 At this point, they are seeking new members and arranging certain training programs to furnish the participants with opportunities and strategies to manage mental health, along with providing a safe space for everyone to feel included. There are approximately 12 to 15 members in this club currently, but the student officers and advisors encourage those that are interested to take part in the organization and join by filling out an application form that can be picked up in room C105. 

Up until now, the scheduled meeting times and dates have remained relatively inconsistent. During the first semester, before they had started advertising it, Lindsay Taylor, school social worker and advisor for Pumas 4 Pumas, explains, “so far we have just been meeting when we need to, and we have not been meeting on a consistent basis…we have been doing virtual meets.” They have switched to in-person meetings, but realizing that meetings after school may be difficult for certain members to attend, Pumas 4 Pumas is trying to set up a hybrid gathering on a more regular basis. 

With all of the challenging occurrences that students and teachers alike have experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pumas 4 Pumas is encouraging inclusion, proving that people are not in this alone and hoping to unify the people of Perry High School with kindness and compassion.