Every year, Facing History and Ourselves is honored to create a public platform to highlight, uplift and celebrate the lives, actions, and voices of incredible Upstanders at the schools that make up our Los Angeles Partner School Network (LAPSN). Having just published the series "A Network of Innovation," featuring thoughtful reflections from LAPSN educators on the meaning and practice of school community, student-centered classrooms, and units that thread together social-emotional learning, civic engagement and identity, this series of Upstander posts this week is the perfect complement. Many of these Upstanders were given the space and opportunities to explore the meaning of Upstanding, expand their Universe of Obligation and Choose to Participate by remarkable educators who live out Facing History's mission: we challenge teachers and students to stand up to bigotry and hate.
Today's post features student groups who have made an impression upon the educators at their school. Yesterday's post highlighted individual students and Thursday's final post will honor individual educators. We hope you'll read them all, follow the social media campaign at @FacingHistoryLA on Twitter and @FacingHistory on Instagram, and consider bringing these posts into your classroom or advisory (here are some teaching activities).
As a start, please enjoy a special message and short poem by Grammy-nominated spoken word artist Sekou Andrews. We see Upstanding as a broad spectrum of action: from small acts of kindness to heroic feats in the face of injustice, from individual steps taken to support peers to collective movements for social change. Sekou's poem provides dynamic description and inspiring interpretation to the critical role of Upstanders.
2022 Upstanders: Student Groups
Bring Change to Mind
Valor Academy High School
Valor Academy High School's Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) club has demonstrated qualities of Upstanding in the school community by encouraging dialogue about mental health and spreading awareness. BC2M helps plan and lead student activities to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. For example, they are working on a "Coping Skills Fair" on campus for the month of May, and have done so much more. Their upstanding against the taboo and stigma related to mental health has resulted in students and staff feeling confident, open, and supported in the school community.
Social Justice Leadership Academy Magnet High School
The Coffee Cart group has partnered with the Intellectually Disabled class to provide them with real world application on how to sell pastries, coffee, hot tea, and oatmeal. Ms. Gurrola created this group that consists of several general education students who work closely with special education students two days a week. The Coffee Cart sells these items to faculty and staff only. The students help sell the beverages and food items and help with counting the money. Ms. Gurrola closely supervises the students. Having general education students work with students in our special education program reinforces that all students are part of the school community and should be treated with dignity and respect.
Esperanza College Prep
The Esperanza Ambassadors have created opportunities for positive multigenerational change for their school and greater community. They ran a clothing drive for the homeless, are starting a recycling program for the school, and brought an entire career day to campus. They work in the community with parents and leaders to create opportunities for students to explore their passions.
JEDI Ambassadors to LAUSD (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)
Cleveland Humanities Magnet
Stephanie M.-G. and Robert Y. have been working together over the last two years to develop a club, Box of Crayons, bringing together students from various high schools to co-create solutions to dismantle oppression in their schools. They created a social media awareness campaign and even began conducting research in various high schools in the San Fernando Valley to highlight student experiences. This year, the group disbanded, but because of their work with Box of Crayons, Stephanie and Robert were chosen to represent Cleveland in LAUSD's JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) coalition. The group is in its infancy, but Stephanie and Robert have laid an important foundation for the work this group will do in the future.
Animo Jackie Robinson High School
The Leaders Looking Out Club is made up of both general education and special education students who meet weekly and go on trips periodically with the sole purpose of helping students socialize in a safe space. These students advocate for each other, hang out together and support each other through challenging times. It is a safe place to make friends, which is badly needed during these times. They support each other and often advocate for one another as they truly empathize with each other’s strengths and difficulties.
Lions Big Brother Program
Valor Academy High School
The VAHS Lions Big Brother Program is made up of high school students who plan and facilitate events to bond with a sister elementary school by doing activities such as reading together to promote literacy and by diving into discussions to resolve conflict. Their goal is to build community and mentor younger children.
New Los Angeles Middle School
These students have met diligently each Friday to discuss opportunities for action and engagement in the community. They have been leaders during Town Meetings and created social media initiatives to create change in the community. They led a Women's History Month Challenge that featured unattributed quotes from famous female activists, inviting students to submit guesses about the identity through a google form. For World Down Syndrome Day, Ms. Naranjo and 8th grade Student Upstanders, Michael M. and Prycilla M., created a slideshow and video for Advisory. Student Upstanders were also founding members of the Black Student Union, doing research and creating presentations to highlight Black artists and social media influencers. They have also led a Community Clean Up as well as organized the school around Breast Cancer Awareness.
About the Los Angeles Partnership Schools Network
Facing History's mission is to promote young people's development to become humane, informed and engaged citizens. This work takes its deepest form at schools in the Partnership Schools Network, where students take several Facing History courses during their middle or high school years. As part of this network, schools embrace Facing History's core themes as foundational to their schools' mission and weave Facing History content and teaching strategies throughout the school: in classes, advisory groups, faculty meetings, and school community activities.