Every year, the Student Government Association (SGA) hosts a spring project to inform students about an issue on which they should be better educated. This year, SGA chose to discuss poverty. “We chose poverty because it affects half of the human population, and we wanted students to gain this broader perspective on the poverty in other countries as well as our own,” junior SGA member Justin Slud said.
SGA organized its members into three committees; shock and awe, which made the posters and displays in the Commons; lesson plan, which created the prezi presentation, and assembly, which arranged the assembly.
The project began on March 27, when posters of various statistics and quotes were displayed in the Commons and hallways. “Seeing the posters all throughout the school was very eye opening. I was shocked at the statistics,” senior Dominic Chow said.
In addition, SGA created a drive for the homeless in the Commons and encouraged students to donate anything from non-perishable foods to household items.
To represent the substantial number of those impacted by poverty, SGA rang the bell every 20 minutes to represent over 300 people who die of hunger or hunger-related causes every third of an hour. SGA members chose one student in each class to wear a sign that represented this statistic.
On March 29, SGA members posted fake tweets describing common complaints along with the hashtag “Wootton problems.” “The general idea of the posts was to show how students could be less aware of the presence of poverty due to Wootton being an affluent community,” junior SGA member Maddie Lee said.
On March 30, SGA representatives went to English classes and gave presentations on poverty. The presentation included statistics about poverty, information on the different kinds of poverty and an activity in which students attempted to create a monthly budget based on their needs. “I thought the presentation was very informative and organized. The activity we did as a class helped me understand the struggle of such a situation,” freshman Nate Gilkey said.
SGA also set up a maze in the Commons to show the cycle of poverty and how difficult it is to overcome. “We hoped to bring this cycle to Wootton’s attention in order to help end the cycle with volunteer organizations we presented the following the day,” junior SGA member Taylor Soroka said.
To end the week on March 31, students gathered in the auditorium for guest speaker Donald Whitehead. Whitehead appeared on stage in baggy clothes and a trash bag, and commenced his speech by describing his childhood and road to poverty. During his speech, Whitehead often mentioned how heated the room felt, slowly removed his baggy clothes to reveal himself in a suit. “I was really surprised when the speaker revealed his true identity. His story was so inspiring and I definitely thought this was one of the best speakers we have had so far,” senior Chaitali Chitnis said.
Whitehead then discussed how he worked hard to escape poverty and went on to share his multiple accomplishments, such as former board president and executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
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