Embracing Differences

Students from the Westminster Schools, the International Community School, and Carver School of the Arts recently collaborated on a film project that served as a celebration of their involvement in the Embracing Differences public art initiative.

The film was received well by the National Youth Leadership Council, who has asked permission for it to be used in their plenary session at the National Service Learning Conference this spring. Claire Tutu, daughter of Bishop Desmond Tutu, who will be hosting a Gathering of Civil Rights Elders in April, has also asked permission for the film to be used at this inter-generational forum. 20 student artists who participated in the Embracing Differences initiative have been invited to attend this event.

Clearly, the repercussions of this initiative are continuing to unfold. Check out what Bo Adams, Head of Westminster Junior High School posted on his blog, after attending an Embracing Differences assembly today. Hope it gives other schools involved in the initiative ideas for ways they can share the project with their school community.

Embracing Differences.

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Turner Broadcasting Visits International Community School

Turner Broadcasting is working with marketing students from Georgia State who, as part of a service learning project, are developing a public service announcement to promote the upcoming Embracing Differences exhibit. This past Friday, they visited Amy Bitcover’s class at ICS. Here’s what they saw:

BTW: Be sure to visit Amy’s page under Classroom Connections and the children’s literature resource list that the librarian at ICS put together under Resources & Links. If you haven’t already uploaded some photos of your own students, please add a page for your school. It helps us connect as a community of collaborators. Remember to submit your school’s top 3 student art pieces by December 1st. Anyone who will have an issue with this deadline needs to contact Leitzel Schoen at leitzels@westminster.net or 404-367-7935. When the PSA/commercial is ready to be aired, we’ll send you a link.

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Idea for Field Trip to Anne Frank Exhibit (coincides with release of graphic novel)

I was just sent information from the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands about the U.S. release of the Anne Frank graphic novel. See excerpts of it on the Anne Frank Channel on YouTube. I’ve inserted the video below.

What about the idea of middle school students visiting the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs in October? Many middle school students read the Anne Frank Diary and this visit might be a great way to get students thinking about the many ways this sort of hate crime continues to surface in our world. At the exhibit site we could do a small group reflection activity. I will look into the possibility of participating schools receiving two copies each of the graphic novel for students to check out. Just an idea…let me know if this sounds interesting. We should check and see if any English classes are reading this novel (good cross-over connection). Museum entry is free for all students. The link to the museum follows.


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The National Resource Center for the Healing of Racism

I thought this site is a great resource for generating conversations with the students regarding how people are oppressed and what can be done to generate a sense of oneness with others.

The reflections page is quite useful. I have copied a direct link below for everyone.

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A Time for Reflection

In these last few weeks, people around the world have turned their hearts and minds back to the horrible tragedy of 9-11. The images of that fateful day in 2001 are seared into the back of most Americans’ minds. On that day, those who were not able to volunteer at the three sites to help with rescue and recovery were glued to their television sets hoping and praying that the visions of hate and intolerance they were witnessing were somehow not real. The reality was too much to fathom.

Like many others, I have spent the last few days reflecting upon the faces of the 9-11 victims of hate; trying to imagine the loss their families have been forced to endure. These moments have also caused me to recall former atrocities and the destructive paths of hatred: the holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, to name but a few. How does one  respond to it all? What can be said? How can we make the world a better place? While I don’t have easy answers to any of these questions, I do know that I must try to find a response. I think that it is every human being’s responsibility to fight against intolerance of any kind. That is why I am so excited about the Embracing Differences public art initiative. I believe the students’ expressions about acceptance and celebration of diversity will inspire the community. Art has always been a medium that has pushed for positive social change. There is so much potential in the younger generation to build a better world. The possibilities that lie within them bring me hope.

This week, I was moved by artist Ned Cartledge’s piece titled Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel. Check it out (click to enlarge photo and use back arrow to return to this page). It spoke to me in so many different ways. At first, the light creeping out from under the overturned bushel-basket made me think of all the human potential the world lost on 9-11. What discoveries, advancements, love, and life will the world never know because so many people’s lives were cut short that day? Upon further viewing, that light spoke to me in a different way. Yes, someone had obviously tried to cover up the light–but had they been successful? Look at the piece more carefully…the light is pushing its way out regardless of its encasements. That was the message  Cartledge’s piece gave me, and it is the one I choose to use to memorialize the tragedy of 9-11. The darkness of hatred will never win. The light will prevail.

—Leitzel Schoen, Glenn Institute for Philanthropy & Service Learning

For those interested in curriculum or media resources that expand upon the 9-11 incident, check out this blog’s In the News section and the Resources & Links section.

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