Social Justice Week Returns to Friends Select for Second Year



Official Image for FSS Social Justice Week

From Monday, January 25th, to Friday, January 29th, all Upper School teachers and students at Friends Select will participate in Social Justice Week. During this event, student-leaders from Clerks will guide a Martin Luther King Day teach-in on Monday before splitting into smaller groups that focus on specific social justice issues for the rest of the week.

Monday’s MLK teach-in will honor Dr. King’s legacy of service and activism through panel discussions, music performances, and two workshop periods. These virtual workshops will be led by Philadelphia-area activists for human rights and social justice, according to Clerks student-leader Annie Rupertus ‘21. “We’ll all connect with and learn from local organizers doing social justice work in our own city, which I think is a really special opportunity,” she says. 

Beginning on Tuesday, each student will join a student and teacher-led track group for the rest of the week. These groups will cover 11 topics relating to local, national, and global crises in human rights, healthcare, democracy, and global warming. All groups will convene in a single zoom room every day from 9:35 to 10:20 AM to attend a keynote speech. Individual track groups will independently work, learn, and hear from speakers throughout the day, sharing their experiences on a shared Padlet (an accessible image and text dropbox) every afternoon. 

Student track group leaders, who have been planning since the beginning of the year, are excited to engage the student body in progressive social justice work. “The goal of Social Justice Week is to give students the opportunity to dive into a specific topic that they might not otherwise explore and discuss in the Friends Select curriculum so that we can collectively be more informed as a community,” says Democracy & Oppression track leader Elena Milliken ‘22.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Social Justice Week will look quite different from last year’s. Groups traveled to various films and museums throughout the city last year, but they will be confined to breakout rooms and virtual presentations this week. “I think a fully virtual SJW requires more forethought in the structure of the day to make sure the program stays engaging, allows for student discussion, and breaks up long stretches of screen time with engaging activities that can be completed offline,” says chemistry teacher and healthcare track leader Heather Paul.  Conversely, the fully virtual schedule has made it easier to invite speakers from across the country. According to student leader C.C. Servon ‘21, the Drug and Opioid Crisis track group will meet with a professor from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Additionally, Heather says that this year, students began planning much earlier and played a much larger role in organizing track groups compared to last year. “In previous years we began planning during faculty meetings early in the fall, but this year the faculty didn’t meet with the student leaders in our assigned groups until December,” she says.

Student track leaders are:

Healthcare: Carly Siegel ‘21, Izzy Ebede ‘21, Maia Weintraub ‘21

Women in Power: Quilana Castro-Cardona ‘21, Krista Burgess ‘22, Sophie Saint-Cyr ‘22, Gigi Sovinski ‘23

Unlearning Hate: Chris Crisden ‘21,  Rosie Taranta ‘22, Lily Brin ‘22

Community Police Relations: Masai Pines-Elliott ‘21, Kayla Alston ‘22, Maxx Sovinski ‘23

Drug and Opioid Crisis: C.C. Servon ‘21, Lewis Shaw ‘21

LGBTQ+ Experiences: Olivia Shuman ‘21, Bella Robinson ‘22, Annalise Di Cicco ‘23

Environmental Justice: Anna Kane ‘21, Corey Becker ‘22, May Colgan ‘23

Immigration Reform: Maya Brand ‘21, Lucia Yeager Johnson ‘23

Democracy & Oppression: Elena Milliken ‘22, Sofia Solari-Parravicini ‘23

Prison Reform: Lucy Kelley ‘22, Simone Singler ‘22, Noah Bonner-Monastra ‘23