By Brian Lau
As the fourth annual “Not In Our Schools” month in Palo Alto comes to a close, we wanted to share some of the inspiring activities from students across the district. Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School each dedicated a full week of events to promote acceptance and diversity, with daily activities focusing on students as “upstanders” — those who do not simply stand by in the face of injustice, but act to make change. Here are few highlights from both campuses.
Gunn High School: You Are Not Alone
In science classes throughout Gunn, students took part in an activity called “You Are Not Alone.” On a half sheet of paper, students wrote down a time in their lives when they felt like an outsider or unfairly judged. At lunch, those stories were strung up together across the quad for all students to see. Ahmad Fayad, a senior at Gunn and one of the student organizers of Not In Our School week, described the purpose of the activity: “It’s a way to show there are people out there going through the same things, to make people feel like they are not alone.”
Palo Alto High School: Student Art Exhibit
Art work by students of teacher Margo Wixsom adorned the walls of the Palo Alto High School library. In the spirit of “Not In Our Schools” week, students designed posters that took on stereotypes and intolerance. Using Not In Our Town films as a starting point, the high schoolers came up with their own messages to challenge discrimination and promote acceptance. Through collages, photographs, and other forms of visual art, the projects showcased a variety of messages, from the isolation and silencing of the LGBTQ student population to the importance of diversity on campus.
“Not In Our School” On TV!
“I was targeted on Facebook.”
” I had to decide if I would share the racist message I received with my students.”
“If I had spoken up, maybe that kid would have stayed in school.”
Cyberbullying and anonymous harassment were hot topics at a taped town hall discussion that will air on The Media Center’s cable programming. As one of the culminating activities of “Not In Our Schools” month, Becki Cohn Vargas of Palo Alto Unified School District hosted this cable TV show with a film screening and discussion featuring students, teacher and parents.
The program will be broadcast on Comcast Cable Community Channel 28 starting Sunday, May 3 and weekly throughout the month of May on Sundays at 2 pm, Tuesdays at 4 pm, Wednesdays at 10:30 pm, Thursdays at 4:30 am and Saturdays at 10 pm. Excerpts from this moving discussion will be feature on this site soon.
If you participated in Palo Alto’s Not In Our Schools month, we’d love to hear about your experiences? What lessons did you take away? What will you do next?
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