Activism Fair Highlights Student-Led Organizing

Social Justice teacher Julie DeMareo says, “It is my hope that through the projects, students understand why it's so important to look at structural problems in our society and to not just ask, for example, how a homeless person can be fed for the night but also why he/she is homeless to begin with.”

For their projects, students organized around a justice issue of their choice, incorporating education, fundraising, and political advocacy work. Working in groups of three or four, the students’ projects involved five hours of service, writing essays reflecting on the process of their project and the results, creating a PowerPoint presentation to explain their project to their social justice class, and making a display board to explain the issue and how they attempted to affect change.

The activism fair was created in May 2012 by former Carroll teacher Megan O’Hara and current teacher Tom Faletti. Held every spring in the library, the fair provides an opportunity to educate everyone in the Carroll community on the issues that students are working on. Feedback from the Carroll community helps determine each student’s grade for the project. All faculty members were invited to attend the fair to learn about the projects and score them. Underclass students attended as well to see what is in store for them junior year.

A few of the projects displayed at this year’s activism fair:

Bianca White ‘16 –  Racism Against African-Americans in Maryland
Like many people, Bianca is saddened and upset by the incidents of police brutality that have occurred across the country. She wanted to explore how racism and discrimination impact society. She and her classmates researched the topic and visited senior centers to speak with numerous people about their experiences with racism. As part of the project, she created a petition and collected signatures to stop police brutality.

Malik Gray ‘16 –  Homelessness
Malik wanted to delve into the principle of the life and dignity of the human person by focusing on the problem of homelessness. He knows that homelessness is a growing problem in society, and yet it is often ignored. As part of his project, he and his classmates interviewed homeless individuals. Malik listened as one man shared his story and explained how a job loss created a snowball effect that resulted in homelessness. Malik knows that Christians are called to help others, and so he wants his project to bring attention to the growing problem and encourage others to have compassion with individuals who are battling homelessness.

Patricia Gomez ‘16 – Orphans
Patricia wanted to address this issue when she learned that there are approximately 12 million orphans in the United States alone. She loves children, and it was shocking for her to discover that so many are without stable homes. She and her classmates started a fundraising campaign by selling candy to students at school and to their families and friends to raise money for an orphanage. They shared the staggering statistics about orphans with people who bought candy in order to increase awareness about the issue. They also collected gently worn clothes and toys to donate to the organization. The group raised $127 dollars and was able to donate it, along with the collected items, to an orphanage in Maryland.

Arielle Galery ‘16  – Bullying
Arielle knows that while growing up many children are either the recipients of bullying or the perpetrators. She wants to break the cycle. She, along with her classmates, organized an anti-bullying public awareness campaign for youth. The group spoke about bullying to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at St. Thomas More Catholic Academy as well as the Boys and Girls Club - FDR Branch. Their presentation touched on different types of bullying and what each person can do to stop it.

At Carroll, students learn that it’s not enough to simply observe what ails our communities, but that we must all work to fix it.