Sophomore Human Rights Conference

Credit%3A+Nick+Youngson
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Sophomore Human Rights Conference

Credit: Nick Youngson

Credit: Nick Youngson

Credit: Nick Youngson

Credit: Nick Youngson

Alison Chan

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A group of SHS sophomores attended the annual Human Rights Conference at Iona College on Thursday, March 15. Students from over 40 schools were exposed to present-day human rights issues during this day-long conference.

The students first listened to three speakers, including Holocaust survivor Judith Altmann and Scarlett Lewis, whose son died in the tragic Sandy Hook Shooting. “Lewis’s message embodied the main focus of the conference (coming up with an action plan) and did not just focus on gun violence,” explained Sam Jahrmarkt  ’20. Lewis sparked many students as she introduced her campaign “Choose Love,” which strives to teach both children and adults to choose the path of love. “I was reminded of the horrors that so many in our world have to face while we are nestled in our safe community, and how important it is for us, who have to power and ability to act, to do something,” said Spencer Sheppe ’20.

Later, students were divided into groups and completed two seminars, each focused on a different human rights topic. “My first seminar was focused on the education of girls. High school juniors and seniors gave a short interactive lesson, and then we discussed ways to spread awareness about the issue and directly support the education of girls. My second seminar was Planned Parenthood Funding. I had previously thought that Planned Parenthood was an abortion center, but I learned from this seminar that it spends almost all of its money and government funding on treating and screening for diseases like cancer,” said Sheppe.

The SHS sophomores are already taking action with what they learned from the conference. As the students reconvened, they chose a human rights topic to explore and educate the SHS community about. They plan to hold a fair in the Learning Commons dedicated to spreading awareness about mental illness and most importantly, how people can get involved.

As a whole, the SHS attendees enjoyed the conference and would recommend it to future students. “I learned more in that day about current issues than I have in the past year. Being able to contribute with other students who are both interested and well-informed on current issues was empowering,” added Jahrmarkt.