FHC students take on genetic research with GIDAS Club


Susannah Bennett, Staff Writer

The rhythmic click clack of keyboard keys resounds as determined researchers investigate specific disorders and diseases. Their eyes sparkle as they eagerly type in little nuggets of knowledge. Despite the fact that they are the only genetics club in Grand Rapids and that they just started this year, the Genetics in Diseases and Symptoms, or GIDAS Club, has already built a researching community and a close-knit group. The co-presidents senior Rea Parocaran and junior Ishita Srivastava have encouraged numerous students to join because the wonderful benefits and community that GIDAS Club offers. 

“Right now, since we’re just starting off; I just want high schoolers to know that there are applications to science too,” said Rea. “So, I want to give other high schoolers a chance to get involved with a club that does things like that.”

As high schoolers, there often aren’t many opportunities to use sciences outside of the school curriculum. This club offers an opening for students to engage in learning that involves the application in real-world experiences.

This year, we want people to know about depression and that it isn’t just a stigma in society.”

— Rea Parocaran

“I hope that it will give students the opportunity to see what science looks like outside of the classroom,” said GIDAS adviser and Geology teacher Joey Spadafore. “Too often we just associate the things we learn with simply learning information and then being tested on it, so it’s difficult to see how these things can be applied to everyday life.”

Uniquely, what the GIDAS Club learns authentically pertains to people inside and outside of our community. As a club, they have aimed their research not just at competitions, but also at areas at and around FHC. This year’s topic is depression, and as a club, their goal is to spread awareness.

“Since it’s our first year, it’s hard to have a huge goal,” Rea said. “But, this year, we want people to know about depression and that it isn’t just a stigma in society.”

As an area of concern, mental health is an important topic to hit and address as a club. Many people at FHC are unaware of the actual origins and effects of depression, and the club hopes to inform them about it.

“A lot of people think that it’s just an emotional thing or that it’s due to external factors,” Rea said, “but through this club we know that it’s a chemical imbalance.”

Raising awareness is a worthy goal to have, but to reach that goal, the GIDAS Club must scour the Internet for this information. Modern-day technology is extremely helpful for both day-to-day life and also for scientific discovery. The GIDAS Club puts today’s commonly used technology to benefit from the necessary information.

“I think honestly that doing research that scientists are actually doing right now [is the most interesting part],” Rea said. “We’re using technology that people use everyday, and it is also something that you can apply [in life].”

Aside from the extensive researching, the GIDAS Club offers a unique way to bond with others. Every Monday, the club meets, researches, and eats. By sharing knowledge over scrumptious food, the members have bonded and become closer in their laid-back atmosphere.

“This club creates another place in the FHC community for kids to pursue their interests,” senior Maddie Mclaughlin said. “This club is a great addition towards those that want to learn more about genetics and diseases in a fun, easygoing environment.”

As a whole, the GIDAS Club is a great space to bond, but to also learn lasting information that is applicable and relevant in everyday life.  

“It’s offering a different perspective on biology and genetics that I hope will open new doors for students at FHC,” Spadafore said.