HOSH returns with Speak Up for Change week

February 6, 2019 — by Neeti Badve and Aaria Thomas

From experiences of giving up dreams to living with a family member with a mental illness, from struggling with academic expectations to overcoming the loss of a loved one — all of these stories inspired and encouraged students to be more open with one another in this year’s Speak Up for Change week in late January.

Each year during Speak Up for Change week, the Outreach Commission collaborates with the student-run program Humans of Saratoga High (HOSH), an anonymous group of students inspired by the Facebook page Humans of New York, to help communicate the theme to students.

When senior leaders in HOSH graduated last year and the leadership of the group changed, HOSH went silent for almost a year. In its efforts to emphasize the theme of Speak Up for Change, HOSH is reviving their group and becoming more active on campus.

Due to the hiatus of HOSH, many freshmen are not familiar with the group.

According to assistant principal Kerry Mohnike, the goal of HOSH is to create a sense of community among students at the school

“When HOSH began, the idea was to create some sort of systemic, ongoing things that highlighted the humanity of all of us and that we’re all in this together,” said Mohnike, who has served as HOSH’s informal adviser. “Basically, the idea is that HOSH can bring commonality to all of us.”

Speak Up for Change calls for student speakers to volunteer and share their stories to the rest of the student body. Some students who did not get the opportunity to participate in the assembly are being featured on HOSH’s page.

“In the past HOSH has written the stories of people that aren’t able to speak at the assembly during Speak Up for Change week because their stories are just as important,” Outreach commissioner Iman Laique said.

For each post, HOSH selects a student to feature and shares their photo and story on their Facebook and Instagram pages. The most recent people featured include World History teacher Melissa Hesselgrave, who talked about how her personal experiences from school helped her grow as a person.

Senior Rahul Vadlakonda, who was also featured, talked about aspects of his life he typically kept hidden from others such as his friends and family. According to the head of HOSH, a senior who asked that his name not be used, the group’s goal in posting school and student stories is to allow people to understand each other better.

HOSH was seen as a great tool for expanding on this year’s theme of “Escaping the mask we live in,” which encourages students to accept themselves for who they are and grow to understand themselves and others.

“If you look at Speak Up for Change’s theme this year, you’ll see HOSH stories come based on that theme: being comfortable being vulnerable,” the head of HOSH said.

After their revamp during Speak Up for Change week, HOSH plans to continue focusing on its original goal and post stories about students and community members more frequently.