Inviting Middle and Upper Schoolers to participate Friday in a nation-wide Fight Apathy campaign. our Junior Statesmen of America leaders hoped to spark conversation between peers about the things that matter most to them.
JSA's local chapter is made up of students from across the district and headed by Janae Boschulte '21 and Leila Habib ‘21. who ordered, organized, and distributed stickers to students this morning that read "I believe in..." Anyone wearing a sticker was encouraged to finish the sentence by jotting down what they're most passionate about and, after morning assembly, share what they wrote with two friends.
Janae, Leila '21, Tyler '21, Finn '21, Mitchell '21, Eesha '21, and Anika '20, had a similar opportunity last month, when they traveled to the nation's capital to take part in a student-led mock Congress and debate bills that offer solutions to issues impacting young adults. In crafting the bills, students pulled from their own experiences - and, in the case of the Virgin Islands, figured out how they could level the playing field in education for all students passionate about studying the arts.
“It’s such a fundamental part of who I am, and, here at Antilles such a fundamental part of what our education is,” Eesha said. “But, through budget cuts, programs across the United States continue to negatively impacted – or eliminated completely – and we wanted to find a way to sustain even a basic level of arts education in schools across the country, and give students the same exposure we have.”
Eesha’s bill, co-sponsored by Anika Hanhfeld, was ultimately passed by the student Congress. In it, the pair set up “explicit protections” for arts programs in public schools and proposed building into the overall US budget for Education, a one-percent appropriation each year to sustain basic programs. In areas where overall income levels and population numbers aren’t high enough to meet the criteria for federal grants or discretionary funding, this proposal will provide equal exposure to the arts for all students, Eesha said.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from – every student should have the opportunity to grow in a safe space, and for so many, that space is the arts community,” she added. “Think of what increasing exposure to the arts will do – beyond increasing sympathy and kindness, it can be an outlet for preventing suicide, for people with mental health issues. It’s important to look at.”