Rights and Responsibilities: A relevant guest–by Jocie Kopfman

Rights and Responsibilities is a required class for 9th Grade students, taught by Chris Hartman and the Leaders in Residence. It addresses many topics such as personal accountability, advocacy, community responsibility and civic involvement. The first part of this year has focused on civil engagement and social justice, challenging students to critically examine their communities and their roles within them while becoming advocates within their personal circles of influence. By giving students the space to create their own tools to discuss, dissent, and take perspective on issues, they are empowered to take responsibility for their local, regional and national communities,  and to work to create healthier ones.

The broad and difficult issues of race, prejudice and privilege were presented and explored by the class over several weeks. You can see the diagrams and definitions in the photos below.

This week, the students in Rights & Responsibilities were introduced to Ricardo Adams, a Rochester community member and activist. He visited the class to discuss his role and recent activism in Ferguson, MO. He gave the students insight into the situation regarding the death of Michael Brown from the perspective of someone who had witnessed the aftermath of the shooting. He also gave thoughtful input about the larger picture of race and class in America. His visit was a powerful addition to the class discussions around social justice and civic engagement in our home communities. He gave students meaningful advice on how they can make a difference by being active in their own spheres of influence and educating their communities about the effects of racism and socio-economic disparity everywhere.

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