Veronica Benjamin ’06, Lead Activist on Danville Police Shootings, Returns to Speak at Equity & Inclusion Night

Alumna Veronica Benjamin ’06 returned to Athenian Thursday evening, October 28 to serve as keynote speaker for our fall Equity and Inclusion night, a biannual event for Upper School students that spotlights social justice issues. Veronica spoke about her activism in seeking justice for the 2018 and 2020 killings of Laudemer Arboleda and Tyrell Wilson, respectively, at the hands of Danville Officer Andrew Hall.  Pictured with the family of Laudemer Arboleda on the day that a guilty verdict was returned for one of two felony charges, Veronica organized support for Arboleda’s case. In light of her monthslong leadership, we were eager to have her speak to students about local activism.

The Tyrell Wilson case hit home for Veronica–a permanent resident of India–who returned to her childhood home in Danville for the duration of the COVID pandemic. She encountered Mr. Wilson, an unhoused man living on the streets of Danville, on her regular route. “I started organizing in the wake of Tyrell’s murder because I saw him every day,” Veronica told students. “I commute to Berkeley on the bus and Tyrell was the man at the bus stop. He was so peaceful…Tyrell was part of my life.” 

Alumna Veronica Benjamin '06 holding up a sign that says "Justice for Tyrell" at a protest in Danville.

While some residents called on the city (primarily via the NextDoor app) to find ways to remove or house him, other neighbors mentioned his gentle, harmless manner. As Danville officials responded to posts, some pointed out that Wilson could not be arrested if he hadn’t committed a crime. On March 11, 2020, Wilson was shot and killed by on-duty Officer Andrew Hall at the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon after a twenty-three second confrontation. 

“When I found out Hall was the officer who killed Tyrell, I was livid,” Veronica recounted. It wasn’t the first incident for Hall. In November of 2018, while on duty, Hall shot and killed Filipino man, Laudemer Arboleda. The cases had similarities: both Wilson and Arboleda struggled with mental health, neither possessed a firearm, and both were men of color. And in these–the only two officer-involved shootings in Danville since 2001–Hall was the gunman in both. 

As Veronica co-organized justice efforts within the community, she focused on educating the public about key facts in both cases and driving turnout to key events. She became involved with Conscious Contra Costa, which she now co-leads. She spoke candidly with students about the challenges of teamwork and navigating bureaucracy. “What I’ve learned in the past six months of organizing is….how to work constructively with others and learn to compromise.”

Sanjev deSilva, Director of DEIS at Athenian, has been another significant figure in supporting the cause. He’s spoken at several vigils, marches and memorials. In the spring of 2021, helped efforts to educate the Athenian student community about the Tyrell Wilson case and prompted interested students to attend rallies. After meeting Veronica at a protest, Sanjev discovered their mutual connection to Athenian by happenstance.  Two of the students who attended one of the vigils, Izze K. ’21 and Khalil W. ’21, facilitated Thursday’s Equity and Inclusion conversation with Veronica.

When asked her thoughts on the role Athenian played in her current path, Veronica’s response hinted at several of our pillars: leadership, service to others and democratic participation and justice. “One thing that Athenian instilled in me is the idea that our learning ultimately has to come back in service of something greater than ourselves and in service of our society,” she said.

Veronica followed up from the conversation on E&I Night with a call to action for how the greater Athenian community could get involved by issuing the following statement: 

“I deeply appreciate everyone in the Athenian community who is dedicating their time, energy, and resources to making it truly equitable, inclusive, and committed to its highest ideals. I was honored to be invited to the E&I Night and have the opportunity to reconnect and converse with many of you. 

For any students, faculty, or family members who would like to get more involved in Conscious Contra Costa, please join our listserv (, and/or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.”

Education for Democracy: Real Change Is Messy—and Worth It

By Rosie Corr ’19 and Josh Tnoe ’19

This is the second in a series of blog posts that highlight Athenian’s Pillars, the foundational values that we share with all Round Square schools. This second installment is a speech about democracy delivered by Rosie and Josh at Morning Meeting to the Upper School.

Josh: When we hear democracy, a lot of us think about our government, and all of the positives and negatives that come with it. But democracy is a lot more than the body that governs. It is the people—the community. To me, democracy means being involved in the community instead of being complacent. It means being outwardly focused on the community around you, and working to make sure your voice is heard and that changes are made where they are due. It means not taking no for an answer, and fighting for what is right and what you deserve.

Ben Granat ’19, Rosie Corr ’19, and Josh Tnoe ’19 worked together on a Democracy in Action class project about Town Meeting at Athenian

Rosie: There are plenty of opportunities for formal democracy on this campus—Town Meeting, our renamed Forum meeting, class or club leader elections, and so much more. But some of the most powerful change is made when you don’t take the beaten path. Real change is made by passionate individuals who aren’t afraid to take a stance and get their hands dirty. There is often a misconception around Athenian that it is possible to make democracy a quick and easy process, something that can happen in an hour, from idea to implementation. And when that doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged and disenfranchised. But that is real education for democracy.

Josh: Learning that democracy isn’t easy is the first step. It is difficult, and it is messy, but for those willing to really fight for what they believe in, it can actually have a substantial impact on the school you and your friends attend, giving you real change without the backtracking and empty promises.

Rosie: It’s also why Democracy in Action is one of the most challenging, yet most interesting and rewarding courses you’ll ever take. And that is why I am so proud to be part of a school that embraces education for democracy and lets the students speak truth to power; without our voices, Athenian couldn’t really be Athenian. Thank you.

Bathroom Signs Changed

by Dylan Ratner ’17, originally published in the January 2017 student newspaper, The Pillar

When returning Athenian students arrived on campus this year, they may have noticed that some of the signs on single occupancy restrooms have been changed. An image of a toilet has replaced the stick figures previously used to indicate the gender for which the bathroom’s use was intended. The change came out of the work of a recently graduated student, David Meier ’16, who, upon returning from a visit to a college where all the bathrooms were gender-neutral, suggested to Dean of Equity and Inclusion Kalyan Balaven that the same system be implemented at Athenian.

“I put [David] in touch with [Head of School Eric Niles], and David and Eric went back and forth to dialogue on that and ultimately decided to change all 11image2 of the single-use bathrooms to be gender-neutral,” Balaven said of the process that led to the switch.

To gauge the receptiveness of the community to the change, an UNCENSORED discussion was held in the 2015-2016 Spring Semester on the topic of gendered bathroom signs. There, a significant majority of students voiced their support for a change and so, following the meeting, Meier, Niles, and Balaven worked to select a design for the bathroom symbol, ultimately choosing the image of a toilet.

“Originally there were some people who wanted to use the bifurcated, dress and no-dress stick figures, but then I asked, ‘Well who is wearing the dress? What assumption are we making here?’” Balaven said. “And so we settled on the toilet because it was the simplest to understand.”

According to Dean of Upper School Curriculum Gabe Del Real, the change is also important in that it

reflects Athenian’s values.

“It certainly speaks to the development of moral virtue, the height of which is justice, which is rendering what is due to someone to help them be more complete,” said Del Real. “In terms of the Pillars, this speaks specifically to International and Multicultural Understanding, with an emphasis on ‘multicultural.’”

Del Real also noted that in addition to mirroring Athenian’s values, changing the bathroom signs was also a move that kept our school aligned with current information about gender politics and thus was a natural complement to our forward-looking curriculum.

“I think this change shows the School’s continued commitment to the personal development of individual students informed by the most recent scholarship regarding the distinctions among the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality,” Del Real said.

That view of the change as respecting the multiplicity of people who are part of the Athenian community and evolving attitudes in the modern world is something felt among students as well.

“I think it has been a long time coming with this change,” Zoe Kusnick ’17 said. “We already have students for whom this change is really necessary and important for their comfort at school and I am glad to see we have finally implemented it to a degree.”

What We Learned at Model United Nations

Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations conference, which brings high school students that represent one of 193 countries together to discuss international issues and crises and propose solutions to them. According to the UN Charter, the mission of the United Nations is to encourage and maintain international peace and security, friendly and diplomatic relationships with other countries, as well as to create an international center for nations to work to achieve these common goals. Each delegation is assigned a country, and as a class we represented Israel.  As delegates of Israel, we were divided into separate committees where we discussed and debated issues such as drones, organized crime, and the Zika virus, hoping to pass resolutions proposing solutions to the problem through Israel’s perspective.

Preparation: Preparing the Country Book

In order to be fully prepared for Model UN, we began by researching the political history of Israel and various country policies before going in depth on our particular committee topics. After we finished researching Israel’s global priorities, human rights concerns, and current events, we started to focus on our assigned committees and wrote position papers to further delve into and propose solutions to the topics we would discuss in our committees. Despite the arduous process of researching and putting together our country book, our hard work paid off at the conference when our books provided valuable information that we were able to quickly utilize during our committee sessions.

Committee Experience

In the committee meetings themselves, we were challenged explain and advocate for our country policies to the best of our ability, and apply these policies to potential solutions.  We talked about issues in moderated caucuses and we wrote resolutions and collaborated with other delegates in unmoderated caucuses. In our experience, representing and speaking for a certain country in a conference was be challenging at first, but once we got used to the MUN procedures and language, most of us became much more comfortable and active participants. This came much easier to Elliot Sasson, a student-delegate who represented Israel because it is a country that he has an emotional connection with and has visited multiple times. The MUN experience was admittedly challenging, but we learned a lot during the process and gained experience we can apply throughout our lives.

Take Away

Despite the common perception of Model UN as a debate tournament, it actually entails much more preparation, applied skill, and enthusiasm. As someone who has participated in parliamentary debate, I can tell you that Model UN is a totally different experience. Instead of short prepared speeches delivered by participants in a formal debate, committee meetings are unpredictable as there is no clear victory or defeat. Other than a one-minute speech, the rest of the meeting depends solely upon the opinions brought up by the delegates, which contributes to how much energy is needed to participate. In regards to the personal interaction during the meetings, it is definitely out of some people’s comfort zone to constantly engage with strangers who you refer to by the country they represent. Nevertheless, Model UN is a must-do for anyone interested politics or international relations and will definitely boost one’s knowledge of world affairs in general, which perfectly envelopes the Multicultural understanding pillar at Athenian. As a class, we performed very well at CCCMUN and 2 out of the 5 delegates representing Israel won awards. Hannah Williams won the award for “Outstanding Delegate,” the top most honor that can be received and Rahul Arockiaraj won the award for “Exceptional Delegate,” the second most honorable award. Also from the F Period class, Devin Dhaliwal won the “Distinguished Delegate” award which is the third highest honor.

As participation within the Athenian community grows, so will our opportunities to explore deeper into the world of MUN. For example, this year we got invited to visit the New York City MUN, which takes place at the UN headquarters. The competition includes possible appearances from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. This and other potential opportunities that may come up only benefit the Athenian community, in general. Again, as a class, we would like to stress the amount of knowledge gained from MUN and strongly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested. Please spread the word to anyone else you might think will enjoy taking part in MUN.

Faculty Play Pokémandala Go

Ever wonder how Athenian faculty get ready to dive back into the school year? This year, we played Athenian-themed Pokémon Go! Which really means we had an elaborate scavenger hunt on campus framed around the Mandala, our blueprint for quality education. Just as we ask our students to get out of their seats and/or put their hands and minds directly on the materials, our Deans of Faculty designed an opening game that would get us moving, talking, feeling, and thinking. Activities included writing a haiku about the Center for the Arts, singing a ditty about the Dase Center, calculating the number of people who could lie down in the Peanut (the grassy area in the Middle School), taking a selfie with the AWE Gate, and writing a poem about the School’s campus and land. We thought we’d share some of the creative thinking that came out of our talented Upper and Middle faculty in just one short hour. See how many types of thinking and learning you can count.

Haiku About the Center for the Arts

Shine paint into fire
Sway bodies cheek to moon
Here we mold desires

Hands oozing in clay
Bodies swirling to the dance
Creating magic

Metaphor made real
Heads hidden among the trees
Student legacies

Lights and camera
Songs, music of the ages
Dance sculpt create live

Sound Movement Beauty
All of you joined In this house
Alas, no parking

Building late at night
Dancing, singing, creating
Gather and reflect

art lives here always
reflecting what’s in our souls

Clay bust enigma
Dancing acting and building
Magic happening

Methods for Calculating How Many People Can Fit in the Peanut

17 Esteban leaps across the length of the peanut, 10 Esteban leaps across the wide part of the peanut, roughly 4 people per leap, we estimate 500 – 680 adults lying down with an average person height of 5 ft 5 inches.

333 adults will fit in the peanut lying down.
9 yd radius
5 yd radius
We calculated the approximate diameter of each of the two approximate circles of the peanut. We assumed a person takes up one square yard.

Our answer is 378 people. Lying on the ground, we figured that a person fit in a square yard. We paced off the two circles of the peanut and averaged the two to find roughly a rectangle of 27 yards by 14 yards. Since our yardage is easy…one person is one square yard…out 378 square yards means 378 people.

We used computational thinking to separate the problem into parts and then wrote an algorithm to compute the solution.
3.14 x 27 squared
= 2289.06
2289 + 594+157= 3040
Avg human height = 5 ft 6 inches
3040/7.15= 425 people

350 adults (average 5.5 ft grand 1.5 ft width) lying on their backs, minimum, adjusting for curves, tree and rocks.

We think 380 adults could lie down in the peanut. We added and averaged all our guesses.

340 people
Method: Took nut, made it into 2 circles. Found area of each. Added together. Estimate area of average person. Divide.

The Land

golden rolling sacred
ground squirrels

So many stories
What’s truth?

Monte mistranslated mountain, thanks invading Spanish.

Blessed abundance
Invaders besieged
Global redemption

Alluding Spaniards; Murrieta’s hideout; inspiring growth.

Devilish beauty; “nothing gold can stay”

Mountain breeze
Our Home

Dia de Los Muertos, Rodan, Panathanaea, and Coding!

Pacific Worlds Exhibit copyby Lauren Railey, Head of School

Due to a long weekend mid-October followed by two weeks of conferences, Middle School students had not participated in a Focus Day since October 9. However, on Friday, November 6, students participated in exciting Focus Days that connected deeply to our curriculum in the Middle School.

Eighth graders enjoyed off-campus field trips based on their languages of study.  Spanish students toured the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit at the Oakland Museum. In addition, they had the opportunity to visit the Pacific Worlds collection, where they viewed artifacts and participated in hands-on activities that connected back to their sixth grade social studies unit on Polynesian Cultures.
Stanford 3 copyStanford 5 copyFrench and Chinese students traveled to Stanford to visit the Rodin exhibit and toured the French and Asian exhibits at the Cantor museum on the Stanford campus. The docent leading the French students spoke entirely in French!


Seventh graders participated Panathanaea, a culminating unit for Ancient Greece in which students broke into various city-states, dedicated altars to their patron gods or goddesses, competed in Athenian’s own version of the OlympiPanathanaea 3 copyc games, prepared Greek food, and were challenged by Plato’s ethical dilemma of the Ring of Gyges. Lastly, our thespians performed Aeschylus’ tragedy The Oresteia for friends and family. On to Rome: Carpe Diem, as they say!

Sixth graders spent part of the day learning Scratch programming (a first experience with coding for many of them) and created their own animation sequence. They also worked on pattern recognition skills and developed their own patterns to try to stump their classmates and teachers. Learning how to code helps students develop a different set of analytical reasoning skills that can be applied in both the classroom and the tech world. Students will have further opportunities for programming in various electives and future Focus Days.Scratch copy

Using Student Funds for Plants and Earthquake Relief

Today’s last Town Meeting of the year involved a proposal asking for $100 of Town Meeting funds to purchase 12,000 native, drought-tolerant milkweed seeds that attract monarchs.

During the meeting, friendly amendments were added to include $450 for outdoor furniture and using the remaining $450 for Nepal earthquake relief. The resolution passed.

Thanks to this year’s Town Meeting officers–Dina, Tessa, Ryan, Lauren, and Ryan–and to those taking over next year–Anna, Cade, Madelyn, Eli, and Arman!

Milkweed Proposal
Submitted By: Ryan D. ’15 and the E and C period Environmental Science classes
Up for Decision

Whereas: Athenian takes pride in its environmental pillar and planting milkweed will provide our campus with more native plants that are drought tolerant.

Whereas: Milkweed would attract monarch butterflies, which would add a beautiful aspect to our campus.

Whereas: Monarch butterflies are soon to be endangered and Athenian can provide a sanctuary for these butterflies on their migration from Canada to Mexico.

Resolved: The E and C period Envi Sci classes request $100 of town meeting funds to purchase milkweed seeds for the purpose of planting these seeds in approved places on campus.

Teacher Does Own Assignment to Create Change in Her Community

541419_10200326457918301_1866669261_n“All children deserve an excellent education, and we urge you, our educational leaders, to ensure that OUSD can attract and retain excellent teachers.” This is the last sentence in 10th grade U.S. History teacher Stephanie McGraw’s petition to Oakland Unified School District administrative leadership calling on them to raise teacher salaries. After just five weeks and a stint on’s homepage featured list, the petition has collected over 3100 signatures, generated substantial dialog, and received two official responses from the School Board.

When a much beloved 4th-grade teacher left Hillcrest Elementary in Oakland for more money at a school in Lafayette, Stephanie’s inequality radar perked up.  Already an active member of the PTA, she started looking in to more ways to get involved in the educational community where she lived (in addition to her involvement at Athenian).  At a PTA meeting in December, Hillcrest teachers came and spoke about the negotiations underway for teacher salaries and a few other issues.  As Stephanie writes in the petition,

Though we applaud Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s commitment to raising teacher salaries, his current plan of raising salaries by 10% over three years is not enough:  Oakland rents have increased 10% in this past year alone while the Consumer Price Index has increased 26% over the past decade.  Our teachers, who have seen a mere 3.25% increase in pay in the last ten years, have effectively had a pay reduction.  They need a much higher wage increase simply to continue living in Oakland and pay their bills (Jill Tucker, SF Chronicle, 11/20/14, Laura McCamy, 7/2/14,

The PTA offered to write a letter to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in support of the teachers, and they did.

But Stephanie left the meeting feeling like that wasn’t enough and asking herself, “How do you create political change?” and “What do I teach my students?” Do research. Get informed. Bombard people with positional power with emails and petitions.  Use  “I ask my kids to do it so I’m going to model it [around an issue I’m passionate about] and see what happens,” Stephanie said.

So, she started doing her own assignment.

Stephanie and fellow U.S. History teacher April Smock developed a project that students complete in the spring as a capstone to their study of modern-day injustices in the United States.  The goal of the “People’s Project” is to identify a social justice issue students are passionate about, conduct research to come up with a solution, and then create a grassroots campaign using social media to work within the system and wider society.  In the assignment text, Stephanie advises students, “there is no ‘right’ way to solve this problem–my hope is to get you thinking about ways to begin fixing the problems you see in America, working both within and outside of our current political structures to try to create societal change.”

Why We Signed1
Stephanie spent several days researching the issues and then began writing her petition.  “I was a student writing a persuasive essay–it’s a four paragraph essay.”  She even had her mom—an English professor—edit it for her. “I went through the exact process our kids go through.  Since I didn’t have a teacher [to edit it], I went to my mom.”  Stephanie then sent it out to friends, her kids’ classes, and posted it on Facebook.  Because she does not allow Athenian students to blast their social media campaigns out to the Athenian community—they have to leverage their personal networks instead—she decided to follow her own rules and not send it to the whole community, just her close friends.

With modest hopes of a few hundred signatures, Stephanie was surprised and delighted by how quickly the petition took off.  People in the community signed it,  sent it to their friends who sent it to their friends, until highlighted it as one of their most active petitions on their site.  Vice President and Director of the Board of Education, Jody London, has responded twice on to the petition.  London’s responses, while acknowledging that “teacher salaries are not where they should be or [where] we want them to be in coming years,” neglected to address the other issues teachers are raising, nor did she outline how the district will work to increase teacher salaries.  Yet, Stephanie thinks London’s engagement is encouraging.  Public conversation between the members of the school communities and the administration is an important step forward.  Parent and Hillcrest PTA member, Michael Addy, echoed his goal that communication remain open: “Once again Jody, I do appreciate your response and the time you took to write. I know you want to resolve these issues also, and I hope the OUSD and the teachers can make this happen, sooner rather than later.”

Stephanie said that part of the reason she started the petition was because she wanted Oakland school teachers to know that their community supports them.  Lori Aguinaldo wrote in her signature on the petition, “I am an Oakland teacher and have been in the district for the past 7 years. I love my job but it is getting increasingly difficult to want to stay working in this district because of the lack of pay that my colleagues and I face. It is a little discouraging that Oakland teachers do not get recognized for all the hard work and time that we devote to our students.”  Stephanie hopes that the almost 3000 people who have signed the petition with their accompanying “reasons to sign” comments shows Oakland school teachers that their families are there for them.  Lusa Lai, another Oakland teacher, wrote, “Thank you for writing this! I am an OUSD teacher and appreciate your understanding and support!” Stephanie points out that just as Oakland teachers can see their many supporters in the comments, so too can the governing board.

Why We Signed2Stephanie is now particularly excited to start the People’s Project with her sophomores in the spring.  She is going to frame the project differently this year by sharing her own experiences, explaining why she started her own petition and why she cares.  “If I can tell them a story and get them to understand why I did this, I’m hoping to [inspire] them in their own projects,” Stephanie explains.

Asked whether she would change anything with the People’s Project based on her experience, she said, “It’s been a really powerful testament to experiential learning.” Looking for lessons from her own experience, she thinks she will recommend that students aim their petitions locally.  Rather than petitioning the Governor or the President, which many previous students did with little to no effect, she wants to encourage more local action.  Stephanie was able to feel the power of having direct conversations with the key players, and she wants her students to have similar opportunities.

One of the things that Stephanie has struggled with is how to wrap up the People’s Projects.  Often, student campaigns fizzle out and because of the nature of the course, there cannot be long-term follow-up.  She questions whether campaigns for social justice can ever have a truly satisfying conclusion, but she hopes to use her own experience to look for ways to conclude the projects, even if that’s to explore this question directly with her students.

Stephanie hopes that the petition will lead to real change in her neighborhood; but regardless of what happens, Stephanie has been personally affected by advocating for teachers.  “What’s been really powerful is that my own kids see me working on this at home on the weekends,” Stephanie said. “When you see something that’s not fair, a lot of people roll their eyes and say they can’t do something. When I see something that’s not fair, I want to figure out how I can fix it and make it better.  So I’ve been role modeling that and talking about it with my own kids who are just 6 and 10, and they get it.  This isn’t fair. My ten year old son will say, ‘My mommy is working to get my teachers more money.  My mommy thinks teaching is important.'”

Shareef Nasir Shares Experience and Perspective on Racial Issues

by Grace Brown ’17

One of the most talented speakers that have yet presented during my years at Athenian took the form of a man by the name of Shareef Nasir. He came to speak in honor of Black History Month regarding issues many people view controversial and sensitive. However, his approach towards these matters was filled with a thoughtful intellect that had been deeply rooted in his own experiences. Shareef has taught at high schools located in low-income, less-privileged areas where students are primarily students of color. At the beginning of his presentation, he relayed a short anecdote where he described the scene of his classroom, putting an emphasis on the students that he taught. A 16-year-old girl too pregnant to fit at her desk. A boy running in late to class with an excuse that his pit bulls got loose; this was close to the tenth time he was tardy in the last two weeks. These are the two students that I vividly remember him describing.

During his presentation, he touched upon the reason why these students are facing these problems. One of the most interesting theories that he synthesized from his comprehensive studies of African American history was that after the Emancipation Proclamation was created, the reintegration of freed black slaves into society was a large struggle. Shareef argued that there needed to be programs installed within the nation so that these previously enslaved peoples could be assisted with the difficult process of entering into an almost “unknown” society. He then circled back around to the students in the classroom and came to the realization that each of these students was a simple replica of the mistakes that had been passed down by generations since the late 1800’s. These mistakes not only being those of their ancestors, but also the mistakes our society has made in regards to African Americans.


Shareef shakes hands with Ephtalia ’17

After listening to him passionately speak with such true and empathetic understanding, I felt as though I had gained a newfound intelligence. I was able to hear a unique perspective that changed my views not only on African Americans, but also to the idea of poverty within the United States. It is interesting to explore the theory that the problems within today’s society are rooted from the blunders of people and events that have transpired in the past. Furthermore, his presentation had a greater effect on me because of the personal experiences that he was able to convey. After listening to Shareef, I am now able to look at poverty from another standpoint. I recognize that the people inside of these less-privileged situations have limited opportunities due to the places that their ancestors have originated from. This was an interesting angle to analyze such a controversial and melancholy topic. Shareef Nasir was successfully able to convey his information and ideas to Athenian in a way that caused our community to want to discover and learn more. I truly hope that he will consider revisiting our campus and holding a screening of the Malcolm X documentary that he is currently completing; it seems truly thought provoking.

Cast Your Vote for Town Meeting Officials!

Cast your vote in the quad

Cast your vote in the quad

Athenians in the Upper School–Make sure you exercise your democratic muscle and vote for Town Meeting officials tomorrow at lunch! Faculty and staff, remember that you can vote too.

Vote for your representatives for Town Meeting President, VP, Moderator, and Secretary. This year’s candidate pool is notable in that two freshmen are running for positions (Moderator and VP). Read soundbites from candidates’ election speeches:

“I can ensure an effective Town Meeting that means as much to all of you, as it means to me.” –Dina Mehta ’15

“I will be dedicated beyond belief to moderate a town meeting in a way that will make people want to stay.” –Ryan Ball ’15

“As moderator, it is my goal to make sure everyone’s voice is heard and taken into account and that meetings run smoothly.” –Ysabel Munoz ’17

“It is my firm belief that Town Meeting is one of the most special parts of our community. All students, not just a small group who are elected to a student council like at most schools, but every student is invited to participate in a discussion about the framework of our community.” Sarah Newsham ’15

“I want to be your Town Meeting moderator because I want the student’s voices to be heard.” –Trenton Tan ’15

Vice President:
“This school has shaped and molded me into the person standing before you today. I owe a great amount to this school and that is why I would like to be your Vice President.” –Delaney Inamine ’15

“Any decisions that are made and any decisions that I assist in making will be with you guys in mind.” –Zarah Sheikh ’17

“I promise to fully and wholly commit myself to serving the needs and the concerns of the community. Because when you love a place as much as I do, you want to do everything in your power to make it the very best place it can possibly be.” –Tessa Sternberg ’15

“I do want to say, that even if I don’t get elected, I’ll be doing this anyway, because my passion is seeing ideas come alive, seeing what was first in the mind appear before our eyes.” Lauren Glenn ’15
“Students, teachers, faculty: we ask you to join us. We ask for your support, questions, and ideas so we can create what we want Town Meeting to be. Because in the end, participants empower democracy.” Lauren Santo Domingo and Ryan Donovan ’15
“If there’s a problem in our community, it’s easy to recognize it, but a challenge to take action to change it. I want to be there for students to help them take action.” Brendan Suh ’15