Celebrating Upstanders

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 21, 2016

Every year, we invite all of the Los Angeles area Facing History partnership schools to nominate a member of their school community who has been an "upstander," someone who makes a difference in small and large ways. Want to be inspired? Read the nominations in their own words below, and then join us on Thursday, April 28th to celebrate with these schools and the amazing Sana Anamat, co-creator of Ms. Marvel! (Click here for more information.)


Animo Jackie Robinson (AJR) recognizes a culture shift in their community – the development of a “Facing History culture” which can be seen in so many senior student projects and actions.

  • Individual students who stand up when they see an injustice.
  • Groups of students who have created, facilitated, and maintained clubs to make sure all students are included on campus.
  • Projects which have raised awareness about homelessness and actions which can be taken to address homelessness, the underrepresentation of women in certain careers, food redlining in South Los Angeles, and bullying.

We welcome all of these amazing students to our Upstander Celebration in anticipation of unveiling the AJR Upstander award this year!

Academy of Medical Arts at Carson High School recognizes student leaders at 10th and 11th grade levels who serve as role models for their peers.

In 10th grade, there are four students who are leaders in modeling the habits of heart and mind which guide Academy practices. These habits consist of Ethical Behavior, Service to Community, Collaboration, Evidence, Perspective, Convention, Connection, and Reflection. Francisco was chosen as an upstander because he embodies the spirit of collaboration. He works effectively with peers and adults alike. Even when he meets with difficulties from both situations and people, he chooses to be a collaborator and a peace-maker, finding solutions to the situations with grace and calm. Anthony was chosen because he is a service to his community. Along with his peers, he is a hospital volunteer. He also works with others in groups within the school setting and outside of the school setting. He is very willing to collaborate and cooperate with his peers. Melit was chosen because she embodies the spirit of reflection. Though she is new to the school, she practices reflection within herself to improve her learning process. She sets personal goals for herself and also sets goals with anyone she works with so that growth can happen. Stephanie is an upstander because of her ability for connection and perspective. She has the ability to take into account others' points of view and connect to them with understanding and patience. Even when difficulties arise she is patient and understanding.

AMA FY16In the 11th grade, there is a group of students who attended the Facing History Summit on School Culture this year which highlighted the leadership and alliance-building of Mayor Tom Bradley. Subsequently, each has stepped up in their own way to bring a leadership presence to campus. This has included: modeling the habits of heart and mind and representing what they mean for AMA, sharing their story with StoryCorps, and taking on additional responsibilities for the school. As a group, these students are creating and will facilitate a school-wide reflection inspired by Tom Bradley in which students will be asked to reflect on how they can make AMA a better community, the Carson High School Complex a better community, and the city of Carson a better community.

Engineering and Technology Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School recognizes student, Calixto

Calixto has been an upstander both on campus and off - guiding peers and already making a difference in the surrounding community. On campus, Calixto helped organize and participate on an anti-bully panel, helped organize and run the drug awareness event, Kick Butts Day, and helped organize and run an awareness event for breast cancer. With the Achievement Excellence and Commitment Program, he also helped lead a group of students through workshops and discussions about personal leadership and volunteered to help clean up his school on a Saturday. Calixto's impact off-campus has including harvesting seeds at Anacapa Island to save its native plants, participating in field trips with the Huntington Gardens to increase water conservation, helping to clean up the Pueblo De Los Angeles when it was newly declared a national park, and sort through food for the LA Regional Food Bank.

Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology at Esteban E. Torres High School recognizes student, Jazmin

Jazmin is not an upstander who emerged in a moment of crisis, but one who so thoroughly embodies the concept that it is challenging to unwind upstander and Jazmin to see where one ends and the other begins. She seeks justice and loves her community through constant acts of quiet helpfulness. Jazmin practices radical inclusiveness that leads her to deftly draw in outliers within the classroom, the school, and the community. She remembers people's names and their stories and uses that knowledge to assure people get the care they need. She speaks up to challenge hate and injustice and her voice is respected by her classmates and the faculty. Jazmin has served as co-editor in chief for the yearbook and her yearbook teacher noted that "her will to make this world a better place has become very evident. Jazmin's humility is center stage - she is someone who is passionate about human rights and animal rights, does a lot to bring positive change to her community, but doesn't share until asked specifically." She does what she does for the love of community rather than for recognition.Her nominator further noted, "All of these factors come so naturally to her and she believes so deeply that this is how humans are supposed to behave, that I don't think she fully realizes how important she is to our school and the community."

Los Angeles School of Global studies recognizes student, Ana, and her creation of the STOP club

FullSizeRenderAna is a proactive student, serving as a school role model in encouraging others to be upstanders in their community. She is in essence, an “underground” mentor in improving her school’s community. She has consistently been an active participant in our leadership and helps her fellow students maintain the school’s culture and spirit by encouraging students to partake as Global Studies citizens.

She has developed a great sense of empathy in helping others and currently is working on a project to aid the homeless in our community with the assistance of a local organization and community partner, Peace Over Violence (POV). While participating with P.O.V., she established and now leads a new club on campus, the S.T.O.P. club, Students Together Organizing Peace, a youth movement whose goal is to help teens prevent violence in their lives, schools and communities.

Specifically, STOP club is working to help the homeless population in downtown LA, bringing food and essentials items to homeless people on a weekly basis. Over winter break they spent an entire day giving out blankets, toiletries, scarves, beanies, condoms, etc. to the local homeless population. During her efforts she helped two homeless rape victims get shelter and proper medical attention. Ana is also helping STOP organize Denim Day on our school campus to raise awareness about sexual assault and how to end “rape culture” on campus and in our community.

IMG_0151 IMG_0554

Monsenor Oscar Romero Charter School recognizes administrator, Jose Castillo

Jose is a constant pillar and leader in our community and he consistently pushes his team to improve on the services they provide to the community and to our students. He meticulously considers all aspects of an issue to make sure he addresses the needs to the best of his ability. Getting others to feel ownership over their service to the school’s community is a strength of his, and he has helped to build an amazing school in downtown LA.

The school culture, parent engagement, and student motivation have improved drastically under Jose’s leadership. He has help to shape Monsenor in to a school that everyone can be proud of. One of the most amazing results of his leadership is the solid relationship he has helped to create with the local LAUSD district school on which our charter school is located. We are part of a Prop-39 placement and Jose has worked tirelessly with the other site admin, both from our charter school and the district school, to ensure that all the kids and families can benefit from the services provided on this campus.

Social Justice Humanitas Academy recognizes junior and senior mentors

The mentoring program is comprised of students who have not only excelled academically but also displayed a personal integrity and maturity as young people. Their responsibilities include checking in on their mentee’s academic progress and personal well-being. They stay with mentees after school to help them make up missing work, sit in on parent meetings, lead Personal Statement workshops, help with phone calls home, and are just an amazing resource for all stakeholders involved. The mentor program is exemplary of young people answering the call of duty with fidelity, honor, and grace.

These young people are a shining light of what our next generation will accomplish in the world. There is a sense of accountability for one another. Students who might otherwise feel marginalized or invisible know there is someone who cares about them and will check on them throughout the school year. Conversely, mentors have realized leadership abilities within themselves they didn’t always know they possessed.

Social Justice Leadership Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School recognizes the student members of Teen Court.

Teen Court 1In September 2013, the “Franky Carrillo Teen Court” opened at the Social Justice Leadership Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School. Since the court opened, students have prepared to get involved with the court through a daily “Law and Youth” class and a “Teen Court” advisory class which meets twice a week. Because this teen court is a real court that hears real cases that involve juveniles on trial, the SJLA students who are involved in the court serve as jurors, as well as in other roles such as the bailiffs. The jury works closely with the two judges assigned to the court cases. Those judges are real judges who work for the Los Angeles County Courts. Because SJLA emphasizes restorative justice as an alternative to dealing with much of the discipline issues that occur in our school, the Teen Court also utilizes restorative justice as part of the sentences the judges give the juvenile defendants. The students and their teacher, Brian Fritch, have created an environment that allows a young person to be welcomed back into their community after an offense has occurred. This occurs by having every defendant, whether found guilty or not guilty, to return to our school’s court within a year, and to be a juror at a future case.

Valor Academy recognizes the 11th grade teacher team of Jennifer Anaya and Lori Mancuso

Listen to the words of nomination from their Principal herself:

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Watts Learning Charter Middle School recognizes the small but important steps two individuals have taken to strengthen their school community

IMG_0443Javier has taken the bold step of trying to prevent his friends from experimenting with marijuana. He notified an administrator, he said, because he didn’t want his friends to engage in a habit that could impact their lives in a negative way. Because Javier is an upstander, three of his friends were able to receive an intervention that prevented them from using drugs in the future.

Diana is an upstander because she always speaks out when she hears her peers making a IMG_0444racial slur. She points out to other students, that their words could offend a listener who may not be the target of the racial slur. She has also been observed standing up for kids that are being bullied by other kids. Diana demonstrated how much she cares about her fellow students and serves as an example of how people want to be treated. Diana’s actions reduce the negative affect of bullying on the student being bullied because they see that Diana will speak up for them when they have lost their own voice.


Find out more about how to foster upstanding at your school. 

Topics: Upstander

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