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Holy Child Welcomes Sam Mihara

On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, School of the Holy Child, Rye, NY, invited Sam Mihara, a national speaker on mass imprisonment and a lecturer at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Harvard University, to participate in the school's IDEA initiative. The IDEA Committee at Holy Child promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, advocacy and social justice through ongoing community conversations and interactive workshops.

Monique Gordon-Anefal, director of the IDEA Committee, explained that Mr. Mihara was invited to share his experiences with the community in keeping with this year's IDEA theme: "Love thy neighbor, welcome the stranger."

Mr. Mihara began his presentation with a quote by former President George W. Bush: "A great nation does not hide its history." During his illuminating remarks, Mr. Mihara talked about his time as a prisoner at the Heart Mountain Japanese Prison Camp, in Powell, Wyoming during World War II. Mr. Mihara was forced into the prison camp along with his family when he was nine years old. He offered harrowing details about his time in the camp, and connected his experience to contemporary debates about civil rights in the United States. In all, he explained, about 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned, half of whom were American citizens. He stressed the importance of studying American history so as not to repeat our mistake. Mr. Mihara concluded with the sentiment: "Never Forget, Never Again."

Mrs. Gordon-Anefal shared the reflections of Holy Child's Christian Theology and World Religions class. The students found Mr. Mihara's presentation "inspirational and informative" and while they were surprised and saddened by his story, they were optimistic that the United States can "grow and learn from our past mistakes." The IDEA Committee continues to create opportunities for our students' broader understanding of diversity, inclusion, equity, and advocacy in relation to our Catholic social teachings.

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Artist Michael De Feo Inspires Holy Child Students

School of the Holy Child was pleased to welcome artist Michael De Feo to talk with our seventh, eighth and ninth grade students. Though his work has been included in many international galleries and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City and Mass MOCA, Mr. De Feo's most well-known image is that of the single-stemmed graffiti flower, which gained significant attention in the street art movement and has appeared in over 60 cities throughout the world.

Mr. De Feo is also known for his guerilla artwork throughout New York City, which was placed in advertising space in bus stops. He removed the fashion ads hung in those areas and placed his own original artwork. After collecting a variety of ads, he was inspired to use them to create more art, which he then reinstated in the bus shelters. This unique art statement led to a recently launched collaboration with J. Crew that will feature his designs on a line of shirts as well as promotional materials like billboards and signs.

Mr. De Feo's work is inspiring Holy Child's student-artists, particularly the school's Middle School who will connect his work in flower imagery with their own service learning project on Alzheimer's Disease. Seventh and eighth grade students will, in a collaboration between the Physical Education and Visual Arts departments, create their own Promise Gardens. The Promise Garden is an initiative of the Alzheimer's Association to use paper flowers to show support for Alzheimer's research and to honor and remember of those affected by the disease.

Shannon Duggan, visual artist and Holy Child art teacher, reached out to Mr. De Feo to Skype with her students but he graciously offered to come to campus, which is in his hometown of Rye, NY. Ms. Duggan said, "Mr. De Feo sees art as a way to express your voice and make change. His commentary and passion connects in a thoughtful and uplifting way to Holy Child's mission to cultivate women of conscious and action."

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Holy Child 5th and 6th Graders Participate in Simulated Refugee Walk

At School of the Holy Child, the Community Conversations program offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to come together to discuss topics pertaining to inclusion, diversity, equity, advocacy and social justice. This year the theme is love thy neighbor, welcome the stranger.

The first Community Conversation of the year was centered on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Holy Child's older students learned about the facts, the historical background of the crisis, what a refugee and an asylum seeker are and how one achieves the status of refugee in the United States.

Holy Child's youngest students in grades five and six discussed how our society meets and welcomes new people, or "strangers," that we encounter. After defining some important terms, the girls simulated the journey of a refugee and reflected on the experience by connecting it to both math and geography.

Katelyn Davis, 6th grader, reflected on the experience: "While we were walking I felt empathy for the refugees because we only walked a half mile, inside, on flat ground with full stomachs but the refugees walked a total of 685 miles, up and down mountains, in hot or cold weather and they were probably hungry." Classmate Delia O'Lunney agreed, noting, "The walk represented a very small portion of what refugees have to do...I felt sad. I thought of refugees of all ages who have to suffer through their harsh reality."

"I felt sad for the people who had to leave their homes," said Lily Hajjar. "It made us think how we are fortunate to have a democracy and have more peace than places like Syria."

This exercise helped our students understand the crisis in Syria by "walking the walk" to deepen their empathy, expand their understanding of the world, and express their feelings about the experiences of others.

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