Each year, a new iteration of Social Justice Day pushes the boundaries of generating social awareness and advocacy in the Lowell community. Expanding into Pre-Primary and Primary School, this year’s Social Justice Day is topped off by events that involve the entire family. Tonight, families are invited to attend the
film screening and panel discussion at 6:00 pm. On Monday, the Lowell Parents of Students of Color is hosting an Hour of Reflection for families raising children of color to come together. Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Michelle Belton has seen parents’ wanting to share resources or their expertise, interests in the day grow. Adding events for the entire family was a natural next step as the school dedicates a day for students to “pause and see the importance [of social justice] and where we can be change agents,” Michelle says.
Workshops in Primary and Middle Schools will explore environmental justice, art activism, racial profiling and injustice, immigration, fake news, and the United States’ engagement in global issues. As students move through their day, they will see how young people can make a difference and learn how to take action in their everyday lives, like Jaden Founteroy, founder of Little Things Big Impact
. Jaden will present her mission to Primary School children to remind kids that they can make a difference in the world, even through small acts, which matter just as much as big ones.
In Pre-Primary School, students are learning about murals and their historical significance as telling the story of silenced and forgotten people in society. Murals also embody local histories and often feature artists not accepted by main-stream gallerists and curators. As a division, teachers will document ideas, reflections, and feelings as students read social justice books like Sometimes We March and Dream Drum Girl to create their own mural in Pre-Primary. “Social Justice is a very natural concept for young children,” Interim Division Director Dawn Smith says. Social Justice Day gives children the language to understand concepts like fairness and equity, “this language lays the foundation for sensitivity, awareness, and involvement later,” Dawn reflects.
Leading up to Social Justice Day, in Middle School, students have been investigating stereotypes of incarcerated youth, how those stereotypes affect a young person’s future, and the history of the juvenile justice system in their delta groups. They will have an opportunity to screen the film Virtually Free and share their thoughts with Director André Robert Lee. The most popular workshops are ones in which students were involved in creating and facilitating. Such an investment of student voice and choice empowers faculty to identify and build leadership among the students. Additionally, on Social Justice Day, teachers and students alike find connections through personal interests that otherwise may have remained unknown.
In its third year, organizers of Social Justice Day are just beginning to realize its potential. Excitement among students and faculty continues to grow as some find the motivation to plan for next year and others think about how more schools and the broader community can participate.