Social Justice Day 2021

January 15: Social Justice Day

A day for students to explore various complex issues and engage in thoughtful learning and analysis on topics including equity, inclusion, marginalization, representation, and how to use their voices to raise awareness and drive change.
Workshops and lessons were conducted in each division on topics ranging from social and environmental justice, civil rights, racism, and representation, to sports activism, land acknowledgments, and immigration. With each opportunity that students take to step into someone else's shoes, they cultivate empathy and the ability to tackle issues through multiple perspectives. Students came away with a deeper understanding of current social issues equipped with tools to become better allies, raise awareness and support on issues they care about, and lift the voices of identities treated one-dimensionally in history. 

Activities by Division

List of 3 items.

  • Pre-Primary

    In Pre-Primary School, students learned about Native American history, the Dakota Pipeline project, and the importance of protecting the earth's resources. The 3-year-olds took the Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge and made signs voicing their support of Native peoples. Children read books Dream Drum Girl and Sometimes We March. Teachers led them in discussions about gender norms and acceptance and what the word "injustice" means. Children learned the importance of listening to each other, being brave with their voices, and how to work together to solve problems. Teachers documented ideas, reflections, and feelings of students to create a mural.
  • Primary School

    Social Justice Signs (for Protests, Lawns, etc.):
    Kindergarten Homeroom Activity

    Teacher Dave Foreman says, “Kindergartners were good listeners and they had thoughtful ideas,” for what their signs could say. Some of the messages they chose were: Black Live Matter, save our planet, be kind, Peace, Justice, Equality, and Disability rights.

    Letters to Child Activists:
    1st Grade Homeroom Activity

    Change Makers in Environmental Justice:
    2nd Grade Homeroom Activity

    Second grade teachers posed the questions “What is an activist/What do you know about Activists/Activism”? Students replied, “a protestor is an activist,” “MLK jr. was an activist,” and “the word “act” is in activist and activism so that means you have to be doing something.” Teachers then asked students what they knew about Climate Change. Students replied, “the world is getting hotter,” “animals in the north pole can’t live there anymore,” and “because it’s hot ice is melting.” Classes read a Newsela Article and learned about activists Greta Thunberg and Mari Copeny. At the end, students made a “zoom quilt” or shared drawings in seesaw they made about the activists with adjectives to describe them.
     
    Launch of our Civil Rights Civil Action unit reading of and activity with Let’s Talk About Race:
    3rd Grade Homeroom Activity

    Students read the book as a class and then chose a page in which they felt a connection. In pairs, students discussed what they identified with on the page and why.
     
    Land Acknowledgements:
    4th Grade Homeroom Activity

    Focus on Land in DC, particularly the land that Lowell is built around and the surrounding land. We will also write to DC government officials explaining the importance of Land Acknowledgement (LA) and asking for them to consider doing LAs before official DC meetings.
     
    Modern Day Activism:
    5th Grade Homeroom Activity

    Radical Love Beats Hate: Dr. Martin Luther Kings’ Message to Us All with Justin
    Which version of ME do you see? A Look at the media’s portrayal of people on TV and in Print with April
    Clique, Click or Collaborate? Social Justice & Awareness in Friendships with Cordenia
     
    Ocean Dance & Ways to Save the Ocean!:
    K-2nd Grade Activity with Elly Porter

    Check the link to see how you and your family can make a difference.
     
    Social Justice Singalong:
    K-2nd Grade Activity with Audrey Engdahl
     
    A Mighty Doll: Representation Matters:
    K-2nd Grade Activity with Jamie Weng and Kristin Peck
    In this workshop, children learned about and discussed the importance of having dolls that look like them and represent their interests. After reading the book A Doll Like Me, the children designed dolls of their own that represent pieces of their identity and shared their dolls with the group to celebrate the uniqueness of each person’s piece.
     
    Agentes de Cambio/ Change Makers/Qualities/ Can you be a change maker? Interactive:
    2nd-3rd Grade with Karina and Lourdes
     
    Social Justice in Sports: How you can be a changemaker:
    3rd-5th Grade Activity with Scott Bryant
     
    Making for Good/Shark Tank:
    3rd-5th Grade Activity with Sam Moser and Terry Beasley

    Students learned about the “elevator pitch” and pondered solutions to problems in their world, at school, home, and even globally to pitch to potential investors.
     
    Sam says, “students were incredibly passionate about their ideas; students have already shared several examples of solutions to problems or needs they have identified in their communities and are working on perfecting their pitches! This type of work aligns closely with Lowell’s mission to create independent, confident community advocates.” Terry and Sam will continue their work with students as they develop and grow their ideas.
     
    Your Voice & How You Use It Matters!:
    3rd-5th Grade Activity with Charmaine Hamann

    How Dr. King, Jr., Malala Yousefzai, Greta Thunberg, Chadwick Boseman, used the power of their voices and words to create change.
     
    Murals That Matter: Activism Through Public Art:
    3rd-5th Grade Activity with Jackie Pliskin

    In an effort to keep the Black Lives Matter (BLM) conversation at the forefront of education, students will take a virtual tour of these DC murals with me and engage in discussion about art’s impact on community and change. They will also be encouraged to make a BLM sign as part of a public display.
     
    Trash Talk: Help Keep Our Oceans Clean:
    3rd-5th Grade Activity with Christine and Kait

    In the workshop, kids conducted a trash audit to track the waste they produce each day. They are now challenged to produce less trash from their lunches and encourage their friends to do so as well.
     
  • Middle School

    *denotes student facilitators
     
    Anti-Semitism Expressed through Defamation of Jewish Artifacts and Temples
    Dava (student)*, Dave Levy, and Melissa Hill 
     
    Students investigate examples of anti-Semitic vandalism in the United States and the history of why such crimes persist today. Examining the power of symbols to unite and divide people, they considered both individual and collective ways we can combat hate.
     
    Resources:
    Excerpt from “Not in Our Town.”  It shows how the citizens of Billings, Montana, joined together to stand up to hate when their neighbors were attacked by white supremacists.
     
    Athletes and Activism
    Julian Lucas*, Jamal Butler, and Kyle Silver
     
    The first part of the workshop focuses on equity within sports. Students watch videos and discuss athletes who break the color barrier in both college and professional sports including the wage gap between men’s and women’s sports. In the second part, students learn more about athletes whoa re also activists and the issues they care about. They investigate how athletes use their platforms to discuss social justice issues and why others might be reluctant to speak out.
     
    Resources:
     
    Cranky Uncle Fights Fake News
    Antonia Romm*, Luca Rinzel*, Katie Robins, and Natalie Stapert

    How do you know when you are being misled through fake news or misinformation?  Students use the Cranky Uncle game to learn about five different science denial techniques. Knowing how the strategies work, students will be able to spot misinformation, avoid being misled, and set the record straight in arguments on many controversial issues, from holocaust denial to climate denial and anti-masking.
     
    Resource:
     
    Do You See Me? The Evolution of Asian Visibility
    Kavan Yee
     
    Learn about the experience of feeling “invisible” in America. Asians have acclimated in a “white world” to achieve or find success. Learn how Asians are “whitewashed” from history and learn about the myth of the “Model Minority.”
     
    Resources:
    PBS Series “Asian Americans.”  
     
     
    Empowering Words
    Brian Weber, Mike Woods, and Paul Goldblatt
     
    The idea of this workshop was for students to learn how to “empower words,” says Mike, like taking a “famous social justice quote and make it into something that would catch someone’s interest and open others up to thinking about the words, thus spreading the social justice message.” Teachers used current movements on social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok. Students divided into 3 teams with a teacher leading the group offering 3 different approaches to the assignment:
    1. Use a famous quote and illustrate it with an image
    2. Take famous quotes and edit them together to make a rap
    3. Take a famous quote (mps recording) and create a musical accompaniment
     
    Immigration Laws and Stories
    Lena (student)*, Sara Hodges, Sarah Fleischer, and Yasmin Mesiya

    Hear the stories of immigrants whose lives have been negatively impacted by immigration laws. Learn more about these laws and the activists who are trying to change them.
     
    Resources:
    Clips from “Maintaining Vigilance,” Immigration Nation, Episode 2.  Netflix.
     
     
    Talking with Students about Sexual Assault
    Led by students Avery*, Jazz*, Oakley*, and faculty Ann Neary, Kiona Cloud, and Teryn Gilmore
     
    Created and led by their peers, students were guided in conversations defining sexual assault and identifying sexual behaviors that are coercive, hurtful, or harassing. “Our students are leading the charge to unpack rape culture and create a culture of consent that empowers us all to feel safe and secure as we explore our sexuality and identity,” Annie reflects.
     
     
    The Good and the Bad of US Global Engagement
    Avery (student)*, Josh Silver, and Sarah Smith
     
    Since the turn of the 20th century, the US has taken an increasingly active role in global affairs. Some of its actions have been good for the world, but many have not. Learn about some of these actions and what you can do to help. “It was fun to see our 7th and 8th graders apply things they learned in 7th and 8th grade social studies as they formulated and articulated opinions about a pretty complex and ever-evolving topic,” says Sarah.
     
    Resources:
    Students will watch this video from the Financial Times about what to expect in foreign policy in the next administration.
    The following are a few resources for “what students can do” to take action:
     
    Using Linear Regression to Analyze Social Justice Issues with Publicly Available Data
    David Sheridan*
     
    Our tax dollars fund a national census every ten years, Social Security data collection, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and countless research grants. How can we use that publicly available data to analyze the issues that are most important to us. I wonder what data we can model and how we can use it to make predictions?
     
    Vaccine History and Equity
    Adrienne van den Beemt, and Liz Bullock
     
    Discuss the ethics of immunizations and vaccinations. What questions should scientists and policy makers ask before, during, and after creating a new vaccine? 
     
    Resources
    What it Means to be AAPI during the COVID-19 pandemic: Racial Profiling and Stopping AAPI Hate
    Cassie Eng, Kikani Libadia, and Caroline Wu from Urban School of San Francisco
     
    Students from Urban High School in San Francisco helped participants understand how Asian Americans are affected by racism, bigotry, and stereotyping during the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students played an interactive game where they could test their knowledge of vocabulary words like Sinophobia and slurs like, “China Virus.”
     
    Children learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first U.S. immigration law targeted to a specific ethnic group, coupled with the 1870s emergence of the Bubonic Plague in southern China, resulted in quarantines and racist “disease control” methods across Chinatowns in San Francisco and Honolulu. 
     
    The facilitators connected the historical use of racial profiling to the current rise in anti-Asian hate/discrimination—particularly anti-Chinese language and attacks and that one in four Asian American students are experiencing racist bullying. After sharing statistics and anecdotes, they challenged participants to acknowledge and share this history, stand up for others and report incidents of hate on the Stop AAPI Hate website (stopaapihate.org). “Although there was a lot to be dismayed about, participants left energized to do something to interrupt this bias and make change,” says Gia Harewood, who hosted the space with facilitators. “Being youth themselves, these young activists were inspiring; they distilled the anti-racist work that they had been sharing with adults and high school students into an age-appropriate presentation that’s certain to stay with participants for years to come,” she concludes.
     
    Resources:
    The Black Plague of 1900 shines a light on some of the histories of Sinophobia during outbreaks of disease.
    Asian Americans face discrimination in the wake of the coronavirus describes some of the anti-Asian sentiment that has been on the rise during Covid-19.
    'You have Chinese virus!': 1 in 4 Asian American youths experience racist bullying, report says focuses on AAPI youth’s experience specifically [and Cassie, one of our presenters is quoted].
    https://stopaapihate.org/ is an organization that has been collecting data/reports on the hate incidents.

Events

This year's Social Justice Day is an all-school event including a film screening and discussion panel for families to join, and an hour of reflection hosted by the Lowell Parents of Students of Color (LPSC) affinity group.

January 14: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

6:00 PM Film Screening: Award-winning documentary, Virtually Free
7:00 PM Panel Discussion: Director André Robert Lee and Brittany Mobley
Virtually Free explores the impact of historic systemic racism in the United States on personal attitudes about race, the evolution of the current juvenile justice system, the realities of detention for young teens, the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline, and steps communities can take to begin to dismantle it. Lowell is hosting this event for families as part of our Social Justice Day activities. 

January 18: Hour of Reflection

This will be time for families raising children of color to have an open dialogue about Martin Luther King's legacy, his message in our current day, and as it relates to the issues raised in Virtually Free and the various topics explored during Social Justice Day. Contact lpsc@lowellschool.org to be added to the mailing list.
Lowell School is a private PK-8th grade school located in NW Washington, DC. At Lowell students gain the knowledge, skills, and social-emotional literacy to be the bold leaders and creative problem solvers our world needs.