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Human Rights Students Expand Circles of Obligation

One+group+including+Sema+Altawan+and+Teilah+Simon+completed+a+project+to+raise+awareness+on+the+issue+of+sexual+assault.+Photo+by+Nakita+Reidenbach
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Human Rights Students Expand Circles of Obligation

One group including Sema Altawan and Teilah Simon completed a project to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault. Photo by Nakita Reidenbach

One group including Sema Altawan and Teilah Simon completed a project to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault. Photo by Nakita Reidenbach

One group including Sema Altawan and Teilah Simon completed a project to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault. Photo by Nakita Reidenbach

One group including Sema Altawan and Teilah Simon completed a project to raise awareness on the issue of sexual assault. Photo by Nakita Reidenbach

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Social studies teacher Pam Ogilvy’s human rights class presented their Choosing To Participate (CTP) projects in the hallway outside the cafeteria during the week of Jan. 7-11.

 “CTP stands for ‘Choosing to Participate,’” Ogilvy said. “The premise of the assignment is for kids to pick something that they are passionate about and raise awareness.  They are making an active choice to leave a legacy and make an impact on those around them.”

During the presentations, students passed out treats such as lollipops and candy canes for observers to munch on while they learned about the projects.

While Beachwood is only a mere 5.34 square miles, Ogilvy believes that BHS’s small student body actually gives students an opportunity to have a greater impact within the community.

She hopes that these projects will show just how much one student can do, and why other students should get inspired to make efforts like these.

“…Even though my experience in Beachwood is totally different from someone’s experience in Ethiopia, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t empathize with them,” senior Sydney Leikin said.

Other students are targeting projects to the needs of the community.

Senior Dani Smith has decided to focus her work on diversity in our school.

Jews and African Americans are the highest population of students, yet we don’t get along or don’t socialize,” Smith said. “We need to realize that we are different, but we have more similarities than people realize.”

Smith feels that BHS is not the only school in need of healing.

“I can’t make racism and discrimination disappear, but if I don’t speak on it, who will?” Smith said. “Little steps go a long way in the end. Hopefully, in the future, [BHS] won’t be the only school I can impact.”

[Human Rights covers] mostly hard topics that people don’t talk about. You get really uncomfortable at some points, but it helps further your knowledge, because you see how hard it is for people of different backgrounds and cultures.”

— Sophomore Abigail Friedman

Like Smith, many students have taken it upon themselves to combat racism in the school. Others decided to stretch into other societal issues.

Leikin, along with sophomore Ilana Fuerman and sophomore Abigail Friedman developed a project to provide funds and support to children in underdeveloped countries who need heart surgeries.

“Save a Child’s Heart provides [heart surgeries to children in] 58 different countries,” Leikin said.

She asks that anyone who is interested in this project to come to her to write additional notes and give support to spread awareness.

“It costs $15,000 to save one kid’s life… not enough people know enough about the organization to make that happen,” she added.

Students in the group were motivated to maximize their impact.

“We talked to [an official for Save a Child’s Heart] about maybe furthering our participation with this organization after the CTP project is over…. if we could really involve Beachwood and anyone who wants to help donate money… we could save a life,” Fuerman said.

I’ve realized I can’t control everything in my life but my actions, and how I use my words matter. I can’t control the world, but I can influence my circle of obligation.”

— Senior Dani Smith

The CTP Projects provide the opportunity for students to reach out and do something bigger.

According to Ogilvy, students have a lot more impact than they think.

Leikin recommends a TED talk she viewed recently called “I’m 17” about high schoolers’ abilities to do far more than we give ourselves credit for.

“Kids like us have a part of our brain that is more strung towards creative thinking, [while] adults don’t have the same creative ideas as we do,” Leikin said.

“Human Rights has made me start to think more about self worth,” Smith added. “The more I’m learning from Ms. Ogilvy, the more I’ve realized I can’t control everything in my life but my actions, and how I use my words matter. I can’t control the world, but I can influence my circle of obligation.”

Human Rights has had an enormous impact on many students who take the class.

“[Human Rights covers] mostly hard topics that people don’t talk about,” Friedman said. “You get really uncomfortable at some points, but it helps further your knowledge, because you see how hard it is for people of different backgrounds and cultures.”

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Human Rights Students Expand Circles of Obligation