Juniper School elementary students took their support for human rights to Main Avenue with a public demonstration Friday in Buckley Park.
The fourth- and fifth-graders choose a human right to embody and communicated it through costumes, posters, graphic art and other means during the demonstration, said Andrea Nachtrieb, a Juniper fourth- and fifth-grade teacher. The Juniper School is a K-5 charter school with mixed-age classrooms in its second year.
The enthusiastic and chaotic demonstration was met with many honks of support from passing drivers.
The event was the culmination of five weeks of study about communication and human rights that included the 30 freedoms and rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Nachtrieb said. Students also had to write an opinion piece about why the human right they chose to embody was the most important, she said.
Fifth-grader Joseph Williams participated in the protest imprisoned in a cardboard box in support of freedom from slavery. His project partner, Castelle Henderson, a fifth-grader, was particularly concerned that more than 40 million people are still enslaved around the world, he said.
The International Labour Organization report released in 2017 estimated that more than 40 million were living in slavery in 2016.
“Everybody should deserve to have the exact same rights as everybody else,” Henderson said.
Many other students also chose to support freedom from slavery, Nachtrieb said.
“The idea that slavery is still happening in modern times really resonated with them,” she said.
The school incorporates public exhibits of the students’ learning regularly into the curriculum, Nachtrieb said. For example, the students held a gallery walk recently.
Jak Phetsrithong chose the right to migration, saying his father lives in Thailand, and people should be able to move about freely. He also recently learned about the thousands of people migrating to the U.S. because of violence.
“It sounded really sad,” he said.
Giada Gierhart, a fifth-grader, dressed up as the Statue of Liberty in support of the international right to life, liberty and personal security. She said she preferred the international right to the American right of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
“Of course, it’s good to be happy, but I feel like safety is more important,” she said. “It makes it so that people can’t walk into your house without a reason.”