Best Week of the Year

Margaret Paul
Dear families.
This is one of our favorite weeks of the entire school year--Junior Trip Week. The timing and opportunities of this week mark a shift for all of our students.
Our seniors are hard at work on their Senior Projects. We see them on Tuesdays when they come in for homeroom and advisory, and then a handful of them throughout the week. Otherwise, they're out of the building--taking their first steps out into the world beyond high school. Tomorrow marks the end of week 3 of the experiential portion of the project--the halfway point!
Juniors are around the country engaging in their place-based research projects. The students who departed on Sunday & Monday this week are not the same students who return tomorrow. They've spent their week immersed in their topics, meeting with many people and discussing their experiences with their group throughout each day. The students always come back to the building seeming to have aged more than one week. I look forward to the energy they bring back to us as we move towards the end of the school year. 
9th & 10th graders are here in the building, continuing to build the foundation that will allow them to successfully participate in their future work. 9th graders took part in a day of service at the UCC Youth Farm in Brooklyn yesterday. The grade & their advisors were able to enjoy the nice weather and help tend the gardens. 10th graders took the Pre-ACT yesterday. Not necessarily as exciting as the other grades, but it marks another milestone on the way to becoming 11th graders.
Please enjoy the pictures and updates below!
9th graders at UCC Youth Farm
Climate Change in Charleston, SC. 
The Sea Level Rise/Climate Change group traveled to the Ghost Forest of Helena Island SC on Tuesday after an inspiring conversation with Queen Quet of the Gullah.Geechee Nation. Though we previewed images and discussed the Ghost Forest before our arrival— terms such as “tree graveyard”, “doomsday forest”, “skeleton beach” set the tone for our visit— nothing could have prepared us for such a stark and uncanny experience of the effects of climate change. We walked out onto a beach littered with the remains of petrified trees that looked like lifeless monuments to the stands of lush forests just off the shore. This visceral experience of the beach and its environs put into bold relief the irrevocable effects of climate change and sea level rise.
Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration in Chicago, IL
Each person we met with got us one step closer to answering one of our essential questions: “How is society supporting incarcerated people through legal aid and representation?” Here we spoke to Renaldo, Anthony, and Kaitlyn of the Illinois Prison Project, who taught us about the effects of the prison system on people all over the country. It was impactful for us because it allowed us to see the humanity of incarcerated people that the media often doesn’t show.
Indigenous Rights & Environmental Justice in Seattle, WA
On Tuesday, our group visited the Quinault Indian Nation and met Dean Johnstone, the manager of the local fish hatchery. We learned all about the salmon life cycle and the role that hatcheries play in the Quinault reservation ecosystem. The hatchery acts as a place of production for the tribe which provides a source of food and income. We also talked about the role of climate change, as higher water temperatures reduce salmon population through diseases and unsuitable habitats.
Sex Education & Reproductive Rights in Atlanta, GA
The Sex Education and Reproductive Rights Junior Trip group has spent the week exploring the intersections between reproductive rights, health, and justice. Our partners in Atlanta have given us perspectives on the repro movement from activism, research, and political action. Students are bringing back a deeper understanding of the nuances surrounding reproductive justice and the importance of protecting bodily autonomy. In the photo, you can see us enjoying one of our favorite meals at a local barbecue spot!
Homelessness in Seattle, WA
Students on the Seattle trip studying homelessness have met with a range of organizations working on both the individual and systemic levels to create safe and permanent housing solutions. A highlight for students included a Thursday morning meeting with leaders at the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, a relatively new organization seeking to transform and disrupt the county’s response to homelessness by centering the voices of those who have lived experience of homelessness. Students were inspired by the organization’s theory of change and radical vision for housing all people and left feeling hopeful and excited to share what they’ve learned. (Pictured: students visiting Pike Place Market after a morning volunteering at and touring Downtown Emergency Services Center’s shelters.) 
Indigenous Rights & Environmental Justice in Albuquerque, NM
We have spent time this week listening and learning from Chicano and native peoples’ leaders who are fighting environmental racism in the greater Albuquerque, Pueblo, and Navajo lands. In listening to leaders, visiting sacred sites, and touring fracking operations on Navajo land we have developed a deeper and more complex understanding of the fight the communities are engaged in.

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