Taking a stand on controversial problems; Students invest time investigating issues

Riley Stoneback, Reporter

     As a sophomore in Harford County Public schools, students have a unit in which they read, study, and explore the idea of justice as it relates to social issues.  At NHHS, English teacher Mrs. Emilie Phillips and Mrs. Jennifer Chandler’s students are asked to choose a topic that they feel strongly about, and  then spend time researching and investigating the subject.

      “The projects this year are really good. They have been much more creative than previous years, and I feel like there were so many ideas that completely surprised me,” said Phillips.  She added that this year she didn’t allow students to do the same project, so she “got a lot of different topics and topics that I didn’t even think of. Overall, they’ve just been interesting,” said Phillips.

      Sophomore Michael O’Leary is a student in Phillip’s class this year.  He is investigating protests occurring in Hong Kong. He said, “My partner and I chose to do this topic because people are getting their rights stripped away, along with facing violence from the police, and it’s just not right.”  He added that he “enjoyed the social justice projects because I learned a good amount of stuff from other people’s projects. Plus, a lot of people in my class had no idea the Hong Kong protests were happening, so it’s also a good way to spread awareness.”

     Chandler’s class is also well on their way to presenting their social justice projects.  She adds that  “the ultimate goal of the project is that students feel like they have the opportunity to make a difference or a change by bringing awareness to an issue… and that students recognize the power of their own voice.”

      In Chandler’s class, sophomore Julianna Chaney chose to do her project on invisible disabilities and the way that people are treated in school. Chaney says, “I chose to do this project because I personally suffer from an invisible disability, so it means a lot to me. I’m just really passionate about it.”

      Sophomore Jasmine Owens, another of Chandler’s students, chose to do her social justice project on “the school system’s teaching of the history curriculum and how it doesn’t reflect the diversity of the student body.”    Owens says, “I chose this to be my topic because there’s a lot of issues that I had to learn on my own time. I just find it not right that we don’t get to learn those because they’re important, too.”

     Chandler says, “I think the earlier that we get kids to sort of see that English isn’t just about reading and analyzing, but it’s also about critically thinking and problem solving,  that’s a good thing.”