In early June, a group of MS 8 eighth graders organized an activism conference for the seventh grade. We connected important issues going on in the world with things happening here at school. The conference began with two group activities, both intended to encourage inclusiveness. During the Human Poll, 7th graders answered questions about race, gender, religion, and more by moving to different places around the classroom based on their opinions. During the Boat Activity, students were given fourteen cards with descriptions of different types of people, such as a pregnant woman, an illegal immigrant, someone who is HIV+, and more. Only ten people could fit on a boat after being stranded on an island, and students were asked to find a solution based solely on these brief descriptions.
Next, each seventh grade class was assigned to a different workshop, one on ability, one on gender, and one on race and class. In each workshop, we had guest speakers including representatives from Eye to Eye, an organization that helps students with learning disabilities, activities such as role playing situations involving homophobia, art projects, and games to promote empathy. The conference ended with a discussion of what these issues mean to them, how the experience changed their way of thinking, and how their actions will change as a result.
Overall, this was an amazing experience for both grades. The seventh graders were able to reflect on sensitive issues that are extremely relevant, both in our school and the world. The eighth graders had to think about the best way to educate others and inspire inclusiveness, a skill that will help us create change throughout our whole lives. I hope this event continues for many years to come!
By Sophie Mode, Class 803