Puyallup Herald

Comics, cosplay and fandom? There’s a club for that at Glacier View Junior High

Ninth-grader Maya Coleman, from left clockwise, eighth-grader Gabby Stone and ninth-grader Layliani Keane work on their artwork during CGI Club on Feb. 6. Glacier View Junior High teacher Courtney Gutz is in the background.
Ninth-grader Maya Coleman, from left clockwise, eighth-grader Gabby Stone and ninth-grader Layliani Keane work on their artwork during CGI Club on Feb. 6. Glacier View Junior High teacher Courtney Gutz is in the background. allison.needles@puyallupherald.com

There are 93 students at Glacier View Junior High who are signed up for the Comics, Graphics and Illustration (CGI) Club.

And while they all have varying interests, there is one thing they all know how to do.

“We can all nerd out together,” said ninth grader Layliani Keane. “It’s a welcoming community.”

The club was first formed by two teachers at Glacier View Junior High seven years ago. Language arts teacher Courtney Gutz was one of them.

93students signed up for CGI Club

“We had a lot of the same interests, and we saw that students did too,” Gutz said.

While at first the club focused on art, it morphed as the interests of students changed.

“Not one year here has been the same,” Gutz said.

Now, the club revolves around topics like manga and anime, superheroes, magical creatures, comic books and graphic novels, pop culture, video games and cosplay — costume design based on characters from books, movies and TV shows. Every year, the club attends Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle.

Gutz said she’s only found one other club like it in Seattle.

“It used to be that this group of kids were the outliers, and now they’re a large part of the population and they have their niche here,” Gutz said. “They get to be themselves. There are all different types of students, all different orientations, races, ages, fascinations.”

It used to be that this group of kids were the outliers, and now they’re a large part of the population and they have their niche here. They get to be themselves. There are all different types of students, all different orientations, races, ages, fascinations.

Courtney Gutz, teacher at Glacier View Junior High

The club meets twice a month in Gutz’s classroom at Glacier View. It’s the perfect setting for the club — with “Doctor Who” and superhero posters tacked to the walls.

“I incorporate comic books whenever I can (when teaching) because it helps my students who are non-readers,” Gutz said.

At their meetings, students start by gathering into groups with discussion questions centered around their interests. After, they either work on their own artwork or participate in an activity. The club also hosts art contests, where members draw their own characters.

Most students in the club are artists, Gutz said, and she’s working on getting their artwork out into the world. Already, her students have featured their art a local magazine.

Eighth-grader Angelmay Liquete was one of those students. She was excited to see her artwork in print, and is thinking about becoming an animator.

“I was surprised,” she said. “When I came back to school, I said, ‘I didn’t even know about this!’”

“It inspires and motivates (us) to keep being creative,” Keane added.

It inspires and motivates (us) to keep being creative.

Layliani Keane, CGI Club member

Every year since its inception, the CGI Club has grown by 20 students.

Ninth-grader Maya Coleman and eighth-grader Gabby Stone first met each other at CGI Club.

“You can come and talk about stuff you enjoy,” Coleman said. “It’s a great way to meet new friends.”

“It’s a really accepting club,” added Stone.

Gutz is glad her students have found a place where they can be themselves.

“There’s just so many (students) that are part of this niche that tend to isolate themselves because people think they’re different,” Gutz said. “We have kids that never spoke, ever, and this helped them out of their shell...When they come here they realize, ‘I’m not alone.’”

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison

  Comments