Several Pennridge high school and middle school students participated in the 4th Annual Teen Peace and Social Justice Summit held last month at Central Bucks South High School.
Sponsored by the the Central Bucks School District in collaboration with The Peace Center in Langhorne, the summit was intended as a way for students to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of freedom, equality, and justice. Approximately 400 students from local school districts attended.
Based on the reactions of Pennridge representatives, that goal was accomplished. Penn North eighth grader Lindsay Wilcox, for example, said she was impressed by the spirit and passion displayed by students in her group. Her favorite part was at the end of the session when all of the groups were sharing the results of their discussions in the auditorium and time was running out.
"The facilitator suggested that to save time students only read their notes if they really wanted to," she said. "And pretty much everyone stepped forward! What spirit!”
The summit began with two students sharing their personal stories of intolerance and discrimination, followed by a keynote address from Joe Davis, a school superintendent from Ferguson, Missouri. Students were then divided into smaller groups to conduct a one-hour dialogue with facilitators, based on multiple prompts dealing with race relations, diversity, and unity.
At the end of the session, students wrote one thing each of them could do personally and systemically in their school or neighborhood to promote more unity and break down the barriers of racism. This was then brought back to the large group for sharing and discussion. Finally, after some closing remarks, all students were served pizza.
Keith Veverka, PSD's Secondary Social Studies Supervisor, said the summit was a powerful way for students to embrace the ideas of Martin Luther King.
"Joe Davis’ experiences working to repair the fabric of that community after the protests and the students discussing the importance of diversity in their smaller groups was a testament to what we can all do to help each other feel valued and safe,” said Veverka.
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