Jun 15, 2012/04:18 PM

Head-Royce High School WakeUp

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Head-Royce WakeUp Blog Post

My name is Kira Poncelet and I am a senior at Head-Royce High School, a small, private school in Oakland, California.   At the end of the year, seniors get a month off of school for Senior Projects, which allow students to intern and shadow jobs in areas of interest.  For my senior project I decided to work at Generation Waking Up in hopes of helping to bring about a more thriving, just, and sustainable world.  As part of my senior project I co-facilitated a one-hour WakeUp at my high school for about 20 students (9th grade to 12th grade boys and girls).   I also had the honor of co-facilitating the Wake Up with two powerful and inspiration young women, Jenny Schneider and Cherine Badawi.

The WakeUp took place on May 17 during our assembly period.  Although there was another assembly going on, I was given permission to pull 20 self-selecting students out of assembly.  Because the WakeUp was voluntary, everyone who was there was interested, engaged, and excited to be there, which allowed for some intriguing and profound discussions.  After introductions and an ice-breaker game to get to know each other better, we all felt more comfortable with each other.   By creating a safe space at the beginning, everyone was able to share his or her thoughts without judgment throughout the WakeUp.  The WakeUp consisted of a few fun activities, both heart-breaking and inspiring video clips, and thoughtful discussions.  At the end of the WakeUp, I asked everyone to think of a commitment they could make that would help bring about a thriving, just, and sustainable world.

At the facilitator training I went to a few weekends prior to the Head-Royce WakeUp, I committed to being a pescetarian (only eat fish) for at least two weeks to decrease my carbon footprint and to protest unethical practices in the raising and production of meat. I lasted a little over a month sustaining myself purely on plant products and fish, however I found it more and more difficult avoiding meat completely.  I am currently still not eating red meat, but I have allowed myself to eat chicken and turkey if I am absolutely positive it was ethically and sustainably produced.

At the Head-Royce WakeUp, students were committing to taking shorter showers, having at least one vegetarian day a week, using more public transportation, spreading awareness about the state of our world to friends and family, and many other things.  Junior Dora Finkelstein is planning to fulfill her commitment to plant a vegetable garden this summer.  I recently checked in with everyone who attended the WakeUp to see if they were committing to their pledges.  I found that almost everyone was staying committed, and it made me so happy to think about the great impact our community was making by staying committed to our pledges.  When I asked Junior Aminah Luqman if she was staying committed, she responded, “I am! I almost went into Safeway without my canvas bags, but I stopped, remembered the commitment I made, and went back to my car. I also am having one vegetarian night a week”.

Aminah Luqman and Dora Finkelstein at Head-Royce WakeUp

We, as the human race, need to realize that every little thing we do impacts ourselves, our community, and our environment one way or another.  A handful of Head-Royce students and I are just beginning to do our part in making our world a more thriving, just, and sustainable world.

When I asked the students what they thought about the WakeUp, they all seemed to really enjoy it, and the majority left the WakeUp feeling both inspired and motivated to make a change and be part of the growing movement towards sustainability. Many of them also mentioned that they wish the WakeUp had been longer and that they hope to attend a full three-hour WakeUp if given the opportunity.  Here are some of their thoughts about their WakeUp experiences:

“I think that this year especially I’ve sort of been realizing more and more about the world we inherited and how the more we keep talking about it the better– but it’s also important to do something because just talking about it isn’t going to fix anything. So what I liked about the program was that it educated people but also inspired them to do something about it, because that’s what I think is really important now. I think it gave me hope that if more and more people went to wake ups, they would want to act too.”

–Dora Finkelstein

“Well I’d say it was great! It was a nice time to reflect on the state of our world today and to think about what we can do to improve our situation. Although it is pretty frightening to think about the current destruction of the environment, by the end of the wake up, I felt motivated to be a part of the change that needs to happen to live sustainably. It seems to me that the sessions are designed to bring people together and inspire them, and this wake up did just that.” 

–Will Roderick 12

“I really liked it!! It definitely was a good taste test and I know that people really want to try the real thing when another one comes around.”

–Rory Chipman 11

“I thought that the Wake Up was great. The speakers and videos were phenomenal. My favorite part was watching the videos and talking about how even the little things we do can make a difference in the world. My commitment is to start riding my bike to and from school during the fall soccer season of next year.”

–Jordan Perteet 10

“The last video was probably the most inspiring, it really showed a lot of the problems that needed to be solved, and the images were powerful. I liked starting with the game, usually in groups where not everyone is comfortable with each other, that’s the best way to start. My favorite part was probably the discussions; they were inspiring and interesting.”

–Thibault Philippine 10

“I really liked it! Dora and I were even talking about going to one of the full workshops they offer. I obviously wished we had more time, but for what it was I really enjoyed it. The videos were really inspiring and we were beginning to have the conversations that we all, as citizens of the world, should be having.”

–Aminah Luqman 11





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