Wenona’s Student Leadership Team share their youthful insights and advice with their younger peers in Assembly each week. This message comes from Community and Service Learning Prefect, Valentina.
Students, I want you to take a quick look at the people around you.
Some of you may know each other simply from being in the same classes.
Some of you may be in the same friendship groups.
Many of you possibly play sports together.
Or perhaps you share the same music taste and blast Taylor’s new albums together.
In light of our new prefect initiative Hands In, I want to talk to reflect on the theme I believe underpins this phrase. Our aim is to bring the School together, create harmony and enable the student cohort to feel seen, heard and supported.
A group is powerful because it can grab people’s attention, but this power can also be abused. As many of you know, groups have the power to reflect both cohesion and disparity.
But hold up - let’s back it up and look at a few examples
As students who take Modern History in Year 12 would know, the civil rights movement in the United States was a mass protest against racial segregation and discrimination – a struggle for equality that continues to this day. Civil rights activism involved a variety of non-violent approaches from bringing lawsuits in the courts, to lobbying government and mass direct action. It was powerful because of the sheer number of people involved and the attention they drew. Their united actions helped spawn a national crisis that forced intervention by the federal government – and produced a movement that is reflected today through the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Meanwhile, the US has also more recently in 2016, seen the development of Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign. This further divided Republicans and Democrats over core political values and issues – eventually leading to the capitol riots that left five people dead over false information about a corrupted voting process.
The fascinating thing about these two events is that both brought people together through common beliefs and values. However, one was used to push rights and improve unequal and disparate standards of living, while the other led to a peak in misinformation, hatred and violence.
Now, while I’m not comparing Wenona to a complex civil rights movement or a political campaign, despite our description as a feminist boot camp, I want you to understand that the groups you form here, however big or small, will have an impact on others.
If we’re going to put our Hands In, we have to make sure everyone has the opportunity to join.
So, while you play sports or listen to Taylor Swift, I want you to look around and consider some actions you might take to create a culture of inclusion and support within our community.
Community and Service Learning Prefect