By TARA JENNINGS, Staff Writer and KATE SANTILLAN, Contributing Writer
January 24, 2019
Three new social media accounts. Flyers posted in homerooms. A segment on the morning announcements. These are all efforts made by the NBTHS Council for Global Citizenship and Education to promote two of their newest programs: “What’s Your Story?” Day and Humans of NBTHS.
Created by Kean University Holocaust Resource Center, the Council focuses on promoting social justice through local projects. NBTHS’ chapter is advised by Mrs. Passner, a history teacher at NBTHS, and consists of twelve students dedicated to improving their school. Every year, Kean University hosts a competition among local chapters of the Council; NBTHS won this competition last year with the “Butterfly Project”, which involved dropping positive notes into a box to be delivered to students in homeroom, and hopes to do the same this year with their new events.
A flyer put out by the Council promoting their new social media accounts. Photo Courtesy of Tara Jennings
According to Meha Pandejee, a senior and leader on the Council, this year’s competition had a theme of “everyone has a story”. Inspired by this theme, the Council created two events; the first, known as “What’s Your Story?” Day, will be taking place on February 1st and encourages students to wear clothing that represents who they are. It will also serve as a kickoff for the second program, Humans of NBTHS, which involves students sharing their stories on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This project is still in development, but within twenty-four hours of its launch, over twenty nominations had already been submitted.
When asked about the motivation behind this project, Pandejee was not focused on winning the competition, but rather on spreading positivity throughout NBTHS. “We hope to share more stories of people in our community,” she said. “We are so diverse and we need to appreciate each other and the stories we tell.”
Mrs. Passner, the advisor for the Council, also gave her perspective on the project. “We’re in the beginning stages still, we went to a training in Kean University to gather up ideas and jot them down and do most of the planning,” she explained. “We’ve had meetings after school, but the hard work starts now.”
No other teachers are involved in the Council, but Passner said that she has received nothing but support from her colleagues. “Mr. Kneller has been very supportive,” she emphasized. Encouraging students to get involved, she added, “All students have to do is reach out to me and follow our social media; we have an Instagram, Twitter, and a Facebook. We really want people to nominate others, but the best way to be involved is to come to me.”
While the Council is still working to promote these ideas, many students at NBTHS have already reacted positively. Zaniyah Boykins, a junior at NBTHS, said, “I think it’s cool! Everyone likes to talk about where they’re from so it’s a great way of expressing yourself.” Boykins’ statement was echoed by many other students at the high school, with several admitting that they’d already figured out what they would be wearing for “What’s Your Story?” Day.
Senior Kayla Scher said she plans on wearing a St. Patrick’s Day shirt. Rony Hernandez, a freshman, said he will be wearing his wrestling hoodie. Pandejee plans on wearing a “Bee” Positive hat, and Passner will be wearing a “Nevertheless She Persisted” t-shirt in support of feminism and Elizabeth Warren. Hats and head coverings are allowed, but any student wearing one will have to pay a dollar to the RISE Committee.
Students and staff show off their outfits on "What's Your Story?" Day. Photos Courtesy of Tara Jennings and Kate Santillan
Overall, there is still a lot that needs to be done in order to make sure everyone knows about these events, but the Council is doing their best to develop their programs. Hoping to spread positivity and appreciation, these events will bring focus to the people of NBTHS, and will hopefully fulfill the Council’s goal of improving the school environment.