The following is from Stephanie Rivera
Many of Stephanie Rivera’s 8th grade social studies students at South Orange Middle School will soon be published in a new Huffington Post series called “Youth Voices in the New Year.” In December, students were assigned an argumentative essay at the end of the thematic unit, “Uses and Abuses of Power in Ancient History.” Students were provided the creative freedom to create their essay prompt and as a result, essays of various topics came forward such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ Rights, education reform, gender equality, and more.
Says Ms. Rivera, “as an educator, it is one of my greatest hopes that each student that leaves my classroom at the end of the year recognizes the importance and value of their young voices.” She taught students how to go about pitching their essays to online publications such as TeenInk, Huffington Post, etc. Even if their essay wasn’t chosen for publication, she wanted to show students the process to make their voices heard in the event they are compelled to have it heard in the future.
As a result, over 30 students were published in TeenInk, and about 20 students were selected for publication in the Huffington Post series. Each Sunday, student articles about different topics will be published on Huffington Post. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the series launched publishing student articles that focused on racial justice. The publication schedule of topics is as follows:
Sun 1/22: LGBTQ+ Rights
Sun 1/29: Gender Equality
Sun 2/5: Education Reform
Sun 2/12: People in Power Abusing Power
Sun 2/19: Power of the Media
Sun 2/26: Environmental Justice
Sun 3/5: Racial Justice/Black History Month
Explains Ms. Rivera, “I hope to challenge the notion that ‘young people are too young to care/understand,’ and instead have others recognize that our youth have a strong critical analysis of the world around them. Their voices are constant reminders of the greatness that is possible in this world, and it is my greatest hope that they are heard.”