What does it truly mean to be an upstander? Well, I’ve been learning how to be one for the past three weeks and I have been an upstander as well in the process. In English class we were given an assignment known to our school as the Upstander Project. In this project we would have to pick a topic/issue that we believed was extremely important. After we picked which topics we believed were extremely important we were put into teams in which all members picked the same topic. My teams topic was gun violence in schools. For this project we would need to write a proposal paper to anyone who has either an ally or was against our cause. In this proposal paper we would need to address why we picked to write to the ally or opposer, what our issue was, what others have already done to fight against this issue ,and our plan to fight along upstanders. For our issue we decided to write to the NRA(National Rifle Association) because they are one of the main gun distributors/companies. Next we would need to do actions through the course of a week in order to inform our school about our issue. In order for our teacher to know about our actions we would take pictures while doing them and posting them on an Instagram that we made(@school_shootings _arent_cool). For day 1 of action , April 26, my team and I searched up school shooting facts to post on our Instagram to get it going. We decided to do this first because it would get the message out that we are fighting for less gun violence specifically in schools and to inform those that are on Instagram about our cause. We also emailed Ms. Dodds, the coordinator of the morning announcements, in order to try to announce that my team and I were planning a moment of silence which we wanted all advisories to participate in. On day 2 of action, April 29, we got an email back from Ms.Dodds which told us that we wouldn’t be able to do the morning announcements because they would be too long with everyone’s actions happening. Since we could not announce the moment of silence in the morning announcements my team decided to make flyers and put them around the school to inform the students. To put up these flyers we needed to email both principals to get approval. We also started to make our slides that would be playing during the moment of silence. On day 3 of action , April 30, we posted up our moment of silence flyers and we started to make flyers with some school shooting facts, we also sent those to the co-principals for approval. On day 4 of action, May 1, we got confirmation and we put up one fact about school shootings around the school. On day 4 we also finished the moment of silence slides, therefore, we emailed all advisors about the moment of silence and sent them the moment of silence slides. Lastly, on day 5 of action, May 2, some advisories participated in the moment of silence and at the moment of silence those that did participate took a survey so we would know how they felt after. Once we finished all of our actions we were told to make a trifold in which we reflected upon our actions and we later presented that trifold to our community in Peralta park. In that presentation we were able to inform our community about our topic and what we had been doing for the past three weeks.
After this project the definition of being an upstander has modified a bit. What being an upstander means to me now is somebody who informs their community about an issue and goes out of their way in order to do so. Being an upstander also means fighting for something that you truly believe in and fighting for a change not only for yourself but for your community as well. During this project I have learned a lot not only as a student but also an upstander. Something that I learned as a student in this project is that communicating with your teammates is key because if you don’t get everyone’s opinion you won’t all be on the same page. I also learned that things will not always go as planned but you can’t give up, all you need to do is modify your plan a bit and everything will be the same just with a little spin. Something that I learned while being an upstander is that your actions do not always have to be big because a small action can cause a chain reaction and lead to a big change.
You may be asking yourself what my next steps could possibly be? Some possibly next steps that I can do is keep posting on our Instagram or I can continue to educate myself about this topic. To keep posting on our Instagram could be an upstander action because I would still be giving out information to the community in an app that is used constantly by not only youth but also adults. Educating myself more on this topic would also be helpful because while conducting this project some questions have raised up and if I do keep posting on our Instagram it would only make sense that I am at least a slight expert on the topic, in order to be able to pick the most credible sources. After this upstander project some advice that I would have to other upstanders is to not be afraid to go big but if you don’t go big know that small actions can also make a change. Another piece of advice that I would have is to make sure to inform others of the actions that are being planned ,therefore, you get the community aware. Lastly, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on your actions because not every upstander thinks the same way and your creativity can cause a huge change.