Day of Love and Service connects students

On the county-wide day of love and service held on February 14, students came together to participate in activities intended to connect everyone. Each class period offered new and creative options for students to step away from work and make connections with themselves, their peers and nature.  

Students who were involved in the school cleanup in the first period of the day were prompted to assist in the beautification of the campus, while also connecting with nature. Gloves and trash bags gave new meaning to Valentine’s Day as first period students ventured outside for the connect to nature theme. The pickup took place across campus, including the courtyard, the field, and the parking lots.

“There was a lot of garbage, but it was fun just being outside in nature yet eye opening knowing I can positively impact the school,” sophomore Devina Tikoo said.  

However, not all students participated in the cleanup. Instead, some teachers displayed short-form documentaries regarding the tragic Parkland shooting, which took place four years ago , and the student-led protests as a result. The documentaries included interviews with students and teachers who experienced the tragedy firsthand, as well as their family members. Although truly devastating, sophomore Mariam Kolley said the documentaries incited hope in her and were “truly surreal yet inspiring.”  

In second period, students were given the opportunity to reconnect with themselves by listening to soothing tunes and having the option to color intricate designs or write poems via various prompts. The activities were presented to encourage students to self-reflect and engage in mindfulness.  

“The calm atmosphere created a refreshing period of relaxation for me to reflect on myself and my thoughts,” junior Anthony Llanos Ayuso said. 

Ice breakers was the collaborative activity of choice for third period to engage students in getting to know their peers better. Many who indulged in the activity agree it was comforting to spark a conversation with others in class. Getting to know students you may have failed to converse with in previous months was a key focus of the activity. Despite the lack of students in some periods, ice breakers became more personal and beneficial for students who were involved.  

“The ice breakers kind of gave me the opportunity to ask questions that I normally wouldn’t have,” senior Bayan Abedulazis said. “Even if only one other classmate was present.”  

Throughout the day, different grade levels were scheduled to attend the Tolerance assembly held in the auditorium. The assembly, headed by social studies teachers Mitchell Firestone and Erica Hansinger; Chinese language teacher Qian Hue and math teacher Fernando Vega-Cid was intended to spread awareness of discrimination against minority groups and to teach tolerance of others and their beliefs. The sensitive topics covered were meant to make the audience uncomfortable, bringing attention to the issues discussed.  

Students in the audience definitely held strong opinions regarding the effectiveness of the assembly. Some believe the fashion in which the topics were introduced was beneficial and shed light on how people can educate one another, while others agree to disagree.  

“The assembly was very hard to listen to as someone who has experienced discrimination, but it was a conversation we needed to have,” Kolley said.