Government and Law students create empowerment projects, educate the community, raise awareness


Sydney Bigelow

Privilege walk workers– Sophomores Olivia Heckman (right) and Rachel Wolkoff (left) collaborate before their privilege walk on December 6. The walk was hosted a part of the empowerment project in order to raise awareness of American privilege.

Sydney Bigelow, Copy & Design Chief

Using refined presentation techniques, students taking Government and Law presented their empowerment projects to the high school and the town during the second quarter. The students presented on a variety of social justice issues in order to educate the community.

“This is a great opportunity for students to actually use what they have learned in school to handle those local, national and global challenges and try to conquer them. It’s really exciting to see students apply their knowledge to real life and watch them solve problems, collaborate with others, and be self-directed in their work. It’s one thing to learn about how the government works, but the real learning happens when students actually apply their learning with purpose,” Government and Law teacher Julie Grossman said.

Not only were students given a choice of topic, they were also able to choose their methods of presenting. Students created slideshows, videos, or verbal presentations. Sophomores Olivia Heckman and Rachel Wolkoff hosted a “privilege walk” on December 6 to raise awareness about American privilege.

“Global scale privilege is not based on skin color but on where you were born or where you have citizenship. From the moment of birth someone born in the United States has more opportunities than someone born into extreme poverty and poor living conditions in a third-world country We hope to spread awareness of this privilege we have all been given in the hopes of people acknowledging this unspoken gift,” Wolkoff said.

At the event, the students participated in a “privilege walk” to get the crowd thinking about American privilege. The activity leaders listed off different privileges, such as “do you have
a television in your house” or “have you had to worry about the water turning off,” and students would take a step forward. Following the activity, Heckman and Wolkoff reflected about the privilege of being an American student and citizen.

“By the end you can tell how far away you are from the start and judge how much privilege you have. This effectively accomplishes our goal of spreading awareness for the privilege
or lack there of American citizens have. Although we can never set the bar equal between a first and third world country, we can bring awareness to the differences in opportunities and privileges,” Wolkoff said.

Sophomores Ben Cosentino, Nick Humennyj, Kaden Maccarone, and Jack Mihalek chose to educate others the effect of mental health on gun violence. They believed it was important to spread awareness to mental health, especially as gun violence is an important issue.

“From our video, we want people to be informed about one of the biggest causes of school and public shootings, suicide, etcetera, and how people can recognize signs of mental health
issues and promote a better environment,” Mihalek said.

The students decided to create a video in order to reach large audiences. Their video featured key details from their research, such as quotes from experts, personal stories from survivors of gun violence, and a “call to action.

All Government and Law students gained a better understanding of the government by directing their problem-based learning. With a goal of positively impacting their community, students strived to work hard and create a strong, final product.