By: Brooke Blumberg and Amanda Epstein
HHH has been an active member of the Students Rebuild challenge for the past 4 years. The annual challenge, launched by the Bezos Foundation, focused on facing, and accepting, differences this year. Students in our school, along with students from other schools in various states and nations, created a self-portrait to reflect their sense of self-identity. For each portrait created, the Bezos family pledged to donate $3 to programs that help youth on different sides of world conflicts build peace and understanding. We are so excited to report that, as a district, we raised over $125,000!
As part of the Students Rebuild initiative, high school students went to elementary schools to teach kids the importance of embracing our differences. Every elementary school class had a presentation on tolerance and the appreciation of others during which they created their own self-portrait. The students learned many lessons, such as “two is better than one,” “stick together,” “be kind to others,” “everyone has a chance to make a difference,” and “help out whenever you can.” The students were further involved by responding to: “what can you do to make a difference?” Many said including others at the lunch table, helping their mom or dad out, and being nice in the classroom, to name a few.
The self-portraits allowed the students to embrace what they love and what makes them unique from one another. When asked what makes them unique, some students said that they recognize various characteristics and abilities, like playing baseball, dancing, having blue eyes, and wearing glasses, as traits that make them different. They even got creative by using certain art styles such as cubism, pop art, and global contemporary. These portraits were very colorful and even had diverse words on them, which makes each so special and unique. Each student was able to appreciate their peer sitting next to him or her by reviewing each other’s portraits and noticing that, despite their differences, everyone can be friends and have fun with one another. On a larger scale, this same theme is applied to the Students Rebuild challenge.
The organizations to which the Bezos family is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars are run by CARE, a global humanitarian agency that provides solutions to poverty around the world. The Bezos family also donated to Search for a Common Ground, which strives to build sustainable peace for young people today and for generations to come. Doing something so small can have such an important impact on the lives of others. By just creating one portrait, each and every student who participated in the HHH School District was able to aid worldwide organizations in finding a solution to violence.
Photo courtesy of Brooke Blumberg