You Are Called to Action

Danny Stock

Since September, GDS 8th graders have grown in their capacities as advocates through their year-long study of a constitutional issue. They engaged on a personal level with their chosen topic, researched, met with experts on both sides of the issue, wrote a position paper, and took specific, meaningful action.  Now, they are calling on the community to take action with them and have committed to continue learning beyond 8th grade “Advocacy Corps.”

Their study of abortion, affirmative action, capital punishment, gun control, hate speech, immigration, and indigenous land rights (with a focus on environmental justice) have launched “calls to action” to motivate the GDS community to join them. Below, we are highlighting five informational videos, two slide decks, one digital pamphlet, and one recited poem from these final capstone projects. Additionally, we are sharing the comments of several students from their Advocacy Corps reflection papers. We know that many students were looking forward to sharing the outcomes of their hard work in person with the entire Middle School during a culminating event this spring. 

We hope that these 8th grade leaders will carry the advocacy tools they garnered this year and take them with them to High School—and beyond. 

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
― Elie Wiesel

Selected Calls to Action

Abortion Group 1
Abortion Group 3
Capital Punishment Group 2
Gun Control Group 1
Gun Control Group 2
Indigenous Land Rights Group 1
Indigenous Land Rights Group 2
Immigration Group 2
Immigration Group 3

Selected Quotes from 8th Grade Reflection Papers

“The only way to start reform is to educate.”
— Juni Irving-Pettyjohn

“I was lacking in statistics, data, and fact[s] which I gained meeting people who worked in the justice system, people who were incarcerated, and those for and against capital punishment.”
— Eden Zuckerman-Hood

I remember every night how grateful I am to listen to these people who I may have opposing views with, but I can still learn from.” 
— Will Babcock

“When immigration is talked about in schools it often perpetuates the stigma that immigrants come to America because they need to be saved and because America is the ‘city upon a hill’ for people struggling...I think this one-sided and simplified view of immigrants leads to a lot of discrimination towards them. How the United States treats immigrants needs to change, and individual action or inaction can make a big difference.”  
— Ila Dohrmann

“Currently, the petition [I worked on to free Sarah Pender who is believed to be wrongly incarcerated] has around 1,350 signatures out of a 1,500 goal. I worked very hard on all of this because I'm passionate about reforming the criminal justice system...When I was writing why I wanted to be in this [constitutional issue] track, I [wrote that I] wanted to be a public defender. That is still true today. I feel that now, criminal justice system advocacy has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is now to get as many non-violent inmates out of prisons to protect them from getting infected.”
— Julian Montes-Sharp

“I would like to inform people that the minorities and poorer students on college campuses are there because they academically performed excellently given their circumstances and are capable of the same learning as the privileged students.”
— Curan Palmer

“A commitment that I would like to make in the next year is to spread awareness for people who are wrongfully executed and telling people how often this happens...Even if capital punishment is "serving justice,” the system should be better at looking more into cases that could result in execution and make sure that innocent people don't end up dying...That is something that I never want to happen to anyone, no matter who they are.”
— Morgan Pearson

“Next year, I will commit to advocacy groups that fight against capital punishment to take action in this issue. I will also try to write letters to congresspeople of other states where capital punishment is still legal.”
— Leo Russell

“Next year, I am going to continue my research on indigenous land rights and environmental justice. Also, once they start to happen again, I will try to attend more of the #FridaysForTheFuture climate strikes that take place in DC, and convince others to come with me.”
— Rachel Schneider

“While we may rely on adults and members of Congress to change the legislation of our country in regards to gun violence, there are measures that we can take to prevent drastic decisions from being made. We can voice our opinions or support those who have that loud voice in this world...Speech is the strongest power that we have as humans, so I will use that to my advantage by informing others.”
— Maggie LoCascio

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