Speak Up for Change Week continues to emphasize community

January 31, 2019 — by Megan Chen and Krithi Sankar

In 2013, then ASB president Sasan Sabat helped lead a team that created the school’s first Speak Up for Change (SUFC) week, with an assembly on Tuesday and Friday including inspirational stories from teachers and alumni. After the tremendous success the event had that year, the Leadership class has continued to hold SUFC in order to emphasize strength in community.

This year’s event was held during the week of Jan. 22 and emphasized the theme “Escaping the Mask We Live In.”

On Tuesday, student speakers juniors Connor Oaklander and Surbhi Bhat, seniors Leena Elzeiny and Enzo Coglitore and teachers Cathy Head, Janny Cahatol and Susanna Ryan spoke to the school community about their personal experiences dealing with a range of challenges. A video from Breaking Down the Walls speaker Dean Whellams played at the start of the assembly as a continuation from last semester’s event.

On Wednesday, fourth-period classes showed a

microaggressions film, made by Class of 2018 alumni Kelly Long, Jane Lee and Sahana Sripadanna, and conducted in-class discussions regarding the film.

On Friday, Leadership held a Cultural Fair, in which various classrooms held activities such as movie screenings, a College Expectations talk by Class of 2014 alumnus Nikhil Goel, basketball in the Large Gym and other activities.

The administration said the week helps the school to develop a better sense of community and tear up misconceptions.

“When we walk around campus and we look around, there’s not one perfect person; we all have our issues that we have to deal with and we shouldn’t be ashamed about anything we’re facing,” assistant principal Kerry Mohnike said. “We should be able to speak openly about things and not feel judged, since it’s especially hard for young people to speak out without comparing themselves to others.”

Junior Nikita Pawar said she enjoyed Tuesday’s assembly, stating that it was important for students to see that they weren’t alone with their issues.

“It was inspirational to see these people stand up in front of the school and speak about their personal problems because it’s motivating for people who have problems they’re conscious of,” Pawar said.

On the other hand, Pawar noted that Friday’s cultural fair was not as useful as the assembly because though “the cultural fair was fun, it wasn’t exactly a connecting or bonding experience.”

Junior Lucy Liang thinks that the event could improve in the following years.

“Although the assembly was pretty effective, I think it would be a lot more beneficial to students if the topics were more specific,” Liang said. “The cultural fair was pretty fun, so I hope they include something like that next year as well.