White River Valley School Board hears from leadership class

Friday, January 22, 2016
The students of the leadership class gave a presentation to the board about modern slavery. The class includes (from left): Rachel Lockaby, Haley Jones, Alexis Graves, Jazlyn Lundy, Kaelynn Langley, and Anna Moreno. (Courtesy photo)

SWITZ CITY -- As per practice of the WRV School Board, a program, class or a special achievement is highlighted during the regular school board meeting.

This month, the board heard from Denise Howell, an English teacher at WRV, and her leadership class.

Last week, Howell received a Lilly Endowment, an award totaling $12,000.

Earlier in the year, WRV received a grant in order to provide a leadership class for its students. Howell agreed to head the program, and decided on concentrating on the issue of human trafficking.

"We run a lot of different projects during the leadership class, such as project management, but for one of the projects we focused on the topic of human trafficking and modern day slavery," Howell said prior to the presentation.

WRV High School Principal Kevin Smith introduced Howell and her class by stating their leadership has been a inspiration to the school.

"We are very proud of her, and we are very proud of what she is doing with her students here at WRV," Smith said.

During the last year, Howell's students have been actively studying the issue of modern slavery.

The students of the class presented to the board, and began the presentation by stating as of 2016, there are more than 35 million slaves.

One student reported there are 65,000 slaves in the United States alone.

Howell later added one reason why she wished to create awareness of the issue of human trafficking is because popular target areas are rural communities.

"There are couple reasons for that: One reason is children who come from single parent homes are at high risk for sex trafficking, and rural areas, where kids have not been exposed to metropolitan environments, many kids may be enticed by things they see on social media, and they might fall for things which are not legitimate. Before they can undo it, they are likely to run away or get involved with relationships which has the potential to pull them into a circumstance where they can't leave," Howell said.

After an impassioned presentation by the students, the class asked the board to support the Red Sand Project.

One student explained, Sand Project is an activist artwork that uses participatory sidewalk interventions, to create opportunities for people to question, to connect and to take action against human trafficking.

According to mollygochman.com, the user will take the red sand and pour it in the cracks of the sidewalks.

"To recognize those who are overlooked, Red Sand Project's sidewalk interventions invite you to take the time to find and fill a sidewalk crack with red sand and to then document your sidewalk transformation on social media using #RedSandProject."

The students of the leadership class ordered 100 packets of sand, and distributed it to the members of school board.

The students also asked permission to put up yard signs, signifying the purpose of the Red Sand Project.

After the conclusion of the presentation, School Board Member Andy Davis asked the class how long this project will continue.

One student explained for most of the projects, the class will be continuing to sponsor throughout the academic year, some starting after Spring Break.

The board voted to approve the leadership class' requests.

Superintendent Bob Hacker expressed his pride in having one of the school's educators as being a recipient of the endowment.

"(Howell's) work with the anti-slavery movement has been the focal point of our student leadership program this year.

"She is a tremendous role model for our kids as someone who makes a difference not only in our school and community, but across the globe -- exactly what we want our students to grasp. I am extremely happy for her, and on behalf of the board and school, congratulate her on this tremendous accomplishment," Hacker said.

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