Thursday April 26, 2018
Patrick Standen, philosophy professor at Saint Michael’s College, talks to students last week at South Burlington High School as part of a new spring tradition called Speak Week. Instead of the school’s traditional Spring Fling, according to Sarwat Samara, class of 2018, “This year, the student council began the discussion, that given the current climate within the community and the nation as a whole, it was time to consider creating a more meaningful event. With this perspective, the student council voted to create Speak Week.” The name stands for Students Participating in Education, Advocacy and Kindness. Similar to Spring Fling, Speak Week would feature planned activities for each day of the week, which would be planned by the student council along with the school’s Student Diversity Union. But, as Samara says, “These activities were more elevated and educational. There were organized debates, workshops on social identities, lobbying and more.” Student council members also solicited speakers including Professor Standen; Hal Colston, director of Partnership for Change; Chris Miller, activism manager at Ben and Jerry’s; and Emma Schoenberg, lead organizer for Rights and Democracy.
One of the council’s goals was to get the SBHS students involved and informed on current social issues, although Samara points out, “It was never intended to push the student council’s or anyone else’s ideas and opinions onto their peers, but, rather, give them the information and resources they needed to form their own opinions and to take action within the community. The members of the student council wanted to leave a lasting impact within the school, something that could really make a difference, because as seen from the students from Parkland, Florida, as a generation, students have the power to make a difference.”