Days of conversation deserve respect



Senior Mattie O’kelley-Bansberg speaks at the Race Day assembly ‘Tell Your Story’.

Ella von Huene, Contributing Writer

During the human trafficking day of awareness I opted out of my senior art class to visit  the panel of survivor turned activist, Jasmin Grace. Like many around me, her story moved me. I have always been somewhat vocal about attending these days of dialogue, but during this recent time of political lack of awareness and turmoil, I was reminded by this presentation about the important power of authenticity and genuine conversation.

Over the course of the last four years, there has been some tension between students and teachers whether or not to attend these events. In my opinion, there should not even be a question. Days like these have perhaps been seen by teachers as an optional events that set the curriculum back which is a fair point.

Some students skip assemblies, which is unfortunate, but in reality most of them attend. Our day-to-day classes are, of course, valuable, but day-aways are different, if not better, because they are made to be authentic. The stories and conversations chosen for the panels of a day of awareness are carefully selected by groups students and administrators, often over the course of months, making the lessons holistic and resoundingly valuable.

The question and answer period after most presentations gives students a unique opportunity to receive serious answers for their questions about important issues, such as prostitution. To not take advantage of such opportunities is to deprive students of valuable conversation which technical classrooms can only provide through books and movies.

These dialogues create active learning and purpose for students. This has become more important than ever as we are in a time where the experience of many American people have been actively forgotten under the Trump administration. It is time for us to arm ourselves with  reminders of what our local community really looks like.

Community means that we keep tabs on each other. Days of Dialogue allow us to anchor ourselves to a caring purpose; we get to hear the stories of our peers experiences in our school. Hearing from each other in this way is an incredibly important opportunity because it creates a communal awareness which will foster the development of important social skills later in life and during our time at the high school.

As an aware community, we can support one another in ways that go much farther than just having class together or eating together in the cafeteria. When we get to hear about the experience our peers, we find ourselves better able to support them, thus fostering a compassionate work environment in which everybody thrives emotionally and academically.

Coming home after the human trafficking day of awareness felt good, as if my purpose in school had been renewed and I was sure as heck lucky to be in the school and town I’m in.  It’s my hope that, at least for the coming years, students teachers will use these days of dialogue and view them with high regard. for the emotional and academic benefit of everyone.