Each year, we invite our Los Angeles Partnership Schools to nominate an individual or group that has demonstrated the qualities of an Upstander in their school community. This year’s theme was allyship which kicked off at our Summit on School Culture last fall. Many schools had difficulty choosing just *one* person or group to nominate! Facing History is proud to recognize the effort and action of the following Upstanders in communities across Los Angeles.
Meeting the Needs of Individual Students
Did you ever have a time when somebody saw your need before you could articulate it? Or perhaps, was there a time when you saw that somebody else was in need and were able to help them? These Upstanders have taken leadership within their school communities to positively impact students’ lives. They demonstrate that small steps can make a big difference.
Valor Academy High School
Valor seniors Yelka, Stephanie and Glindy worked with counselor Queren Eusebio this year to launch a program called Bring Change to Mind. Together they helped combat the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. They put together eight events that ranged from a Mental Health Awareness week to running “Take It Easy Thursdays” that focused on de-stressing activities
USC Esperanza College Prep
Reyna articulates her deep belief that everyone should be treated equally, especially when it comes to educational opportunities. She frequently checks in with members of her community, both peers and adults, and advocates for others when they are not being treated fairly. The entire Esperanza community has benefitted from seeing Reyna model upstanding with a sense of joy. Reyna cites her mother as motivation, saying,
"My mom motivates me to do my best and my hopes for my future. In the future, I want to be a nurse and work in the pediatric unit. I want to make sure I am helping people and making moms happy. I want to be part of people’s life-changing moments.”
Animo College Prep Academy at Jordan High School
Samantha had a vision of making menstruation an easier experience for her peers at school. She started a project so that students can request feminine hygiene supplies from their teachers, and she advocated for more uniform pants to be available for those who needed them. Samantha is an active member in the school community, and a member of the school's Rainbow Alliance club (LGBT club).
Social Justice Humanitas Academy
As the Socioemotional Coordinator for SJHA, Jennie Rosenbaum, supports students and faculty alike. She contributes to the annual Staff Retreat, plans multiple college trips, creates culture-building curriculum for advisories, and works one-on-one with seniors on college, scholarship, and internship applications. Because of her efforts, students have a greater sense of access to opportunities, and faculty feel heard and supported.
Advocates for Change
At every school, there seem to be some individuals who are true advocates for change. They make their voices heard. These Upstanders are recognized for their drive to take on multiple issues on and off campus. They meet challenges with creativity and tenacity, speaking out to spread awareness, researching solutions and organizing to action.
Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School
Andrea was nominated for tackling many challenges as an upstander at AJR, both on campus and beyond. For the past four years, she has written advisory lessons based on Facing History units. She collects feminine hygiene products and donates them to local shelters. She has attended public rallies and built networks with local non-profit organizations, such as the South Central Neighborhood Council, in order to advocate for safe streets along the major thoroughfares that border her school. She spoke to the media about safety concerns in the wake of the two tragic deaths of community school children by a truck driver. Because of her efforts, the South Central Neighborhood Council scheduled a meeting with District 9 to respond to a press conference she worked to organize.
Alliance Leichtman-Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science High School
Jasmine’s upstanding this year has known no bounds. Among other things, this year she took a course through Children’s Hospital about how to educate others about the dangers of drug abuse. She marched in two Women’s Marches, and with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (addressing unfair animal treatment in the circus). She organized a No Human is Illegal public march, and La Plaza de Cultura used photos of the march for an exhibition on past and present Chicano activism.
She volunteered with the L.A Mission and helped organize a Christmas event for the homeless. With the Midnight Mission, she helped to feed the homeless during their soup kitchen hours. She attended the Los Angeles Historic Neighborhood Conference about gentrification, and created a Gentrification Proposal about the importance of preventing family displacement as conservationists restore historical buildings. She also has been working on a transportable mural that can be moved to other communities as a resource for dialogue as well as marches.
Cleveland Humanities Magnet High School
Amani has stood up for her community in many ways. She has worked for KCAV, the school weekly media broadcast, to bring underrepresented voices into the media. She is an officer for the group Womxn in Today's Society, and has led conversations around including transwomen's voices in feminism and sexual assault issues . She rallied in solidarity with teachers as they went on strike. She took part in the Youth Against Violence Coalition to work to stop gun violence. She serves as Vice President of SAMEAN (South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Northern African) Voices. Following the attacks on mosques in New Zealand, she helped create a powerfully healing vigil with a coalition of various student groups, so that people of all communities could grieve, build solidarity and heal together. As a result, she inspired younger students to engage in, and develop, their own leadership skills as well. As a participant in the Mock State Legislature Conference, she worked to push reform in healthcare for underrepresented people. These are just some examples of the allyship and leadership Amani has demonstrated as an upstander.
Los Angeles School of Global Studies
Alberto exemplifies upstanding at his school because he supports his peers. He has coached classmates through academic and personal struggles, staying after school for many hours to serve as a peer tutor and advocate, helping to prevent peers from dropping out. When the soccer team unexpectedly had the coach leave, Alberto rallied to find a new one so that the team could continue. Alberto took a founding role in his school’s I Learn America project, a program run by documentary filmmaker Jean-Michel Dissard that encourages newly arrived immigrant students to feel more welcomed into a school's community. As a Student Leader of this program, Alberto has supported his peers in sharing their stories about migration and adjusting to life in America. Alberto came to this country by himself from Guatemala when he was in middle school. Through sharing his own story of struggle and strength, he has encouraged many other students to feel brave about sharing their own stories.
Working with others requires an openness to learn about others and reflect on our own willingness to act on others' behalf. We recognize the following Upstanders for their exemplary inclusivity, allyship and leadership. From helping to resolve conflicts, to standing up for immigrants’ and LGBTQ rights, these Upstanders are starting with their own school communities to effect social change and create more inclusive communities.
Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology at Esteban E. Torres High School
Student Circle Keepers lead community-building circles during HAAT school-wide events. They support the restorative justice coach to develop relevant circle topics that best elicit participation and connection. Three or four times a year, they facilitate circles of 20-25 students and adults. These circles help develop students' and adults' connection to the school community and to one another. They serve as a productive way of resolving conflicts.
LA's Promise Charter Middle School #1
Julio Salcedo, while still new to teaching, already has exemplified how a teacher can serve as an upstander. He has developed student voice and advocacy as the Student Leadership advisor. He has guided students to plan activities and fundraise throughout the year. In his US History classes, he has fostered respectful dialogue and led simulations of historic events that have shaped our democracy. He has implemented Socratic seminars to help students find the relevance of learning history and understanding the context of current events. He has deepened empathy among students, and helped them express their beliefs on issues ranging from the second amendment to immigration. Julio has developed a learning climate that combats bullying and encourages students to consider how they too can be upstanders, contributing to society as leaders who promote opportunity and equity for others.
Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy #8
The Immigrant Rights Working Group (IRWG) began two years ago as a staff organization, but this year student scholars participated as well. Together members discuss issues concerning immigrant rights, particularly undocumented immigrants, and ways to bring light to this issue as well as promote inclusivity. The group created school-wide lessons and activities, culminating with a community celebration called "Monarca Week" building on the symbolism of the monarch butterflies that travel without boundary. The celebration involved writing letters to politicians and promote activism, making signs/posters, engaging in stories from the community. SnapChat created a special filter for the group’s event.
San Fernando Institute of Applied Media
The LOVE is LOVE Club at San Fernando Institute for Applied Media is a group upstanders and a group of allies, speaking up in support of all identities in their LGBTQ community. They meet at lunch once a week to discuss how to offer support. They also create fundraisers and awareness campaigns, and have written advisory lessons that promote a safe and inclusive campus. This year, they worked to put a stop to the use homophobic slurs such as “that’s so gay.”
Academy of Medical Arts at Carson High School
Thanks to the work of students Joshua, Kylamae, Kameron, and Reign, the Gay Straight Alliance is now a growing and thriving group on campus serving a diverse body of students. Thanks to these principle members, now more than 30 students participate in the club. Take a look at these pictures from events this year!