On Tuesday night, March 20th, Buckley Country Day School turned its auditorium into a showcase for some of its brightest young minds, sharing some of their most passionate opinions.The Sixth Grade Social Justice Slam was certainly a night to remember, as students used their voices and imagery—through poetry and film about social issues and courageous human rights defenders—yielding results that were nothing short of amazing.
“Empowering learners to take informed action for social justice promotes responsibility that goes beyond the classroom; it builds empathy to stand up for human rights,” said History teacher Patricia Russac, one of the event’s co-organizers. “Students of today do not need to wait until tomorrow, or for adults, to be changemakers. They have the power to make a difference now. They are ‘Gen WE,’ a generation determined to change the world.”
The evening was a special opportunity to hear students’ powerful words. However, this event did not end with the last poem—it will continue every day, both in and out of the classrooms. These issues are complicated and therefore require knowing other points of view. It is key to being an informed global citizen.
“These sixth graders understand the problems that exist in our world today,” said English teacher Natasha Chadha, also an event co-organizer. “They are already encountering and discussing these issues outside of the classroom, so the objective is to help them become more knowledgeable and confident to speak up when necessary.”
The social justice project was part of the humanities program with Ms. Chadha and Ms. Russac, and was a natural extension of the fifth grade social entrepreneur unit and part of Buckley’s ongoing effort to raise awareness about diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality.The two teachers felt especially passionate about helping the students become active in recognizing what stands in the way of social justice, realize that they can do something to protect basic rights and freedoms, and question everything by exploring all sides before forming their own opinions.
The students used a host of resources to research and develop their poetry and video documentaries. The issues and topics came from the Speak Truth To Power curriculum from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation. It is based Kerry Kennedy’s book, Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World, that features interviews with more than 50 human rights defenders who are a tribute to the human spirit for social justice. It uses the experiences of courageous defenders to educate students about human rights and urge them to take action.
As renowned author and civil rights activist Audre Lorde said, “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
Buckley salutes all of its sixth graders!CLICK HERE
for photosCLICK HERE
for a video of the finale