By: Tara Dugel ’16On a typical Friday afternoon, a group of enthusiastic high-school students gathered. They had their arms and legs entangled, forming a “human knot,” using teamwork to free themselves. Despite this playfulness, the students understood the higher purpose of this gathering: Unitown 2014.
Unitown is a national youth leadership and diversity training program that allows high-school students to face barriers that often divide them in school, addressing real issues that affect teens. Unitown brings together students of various backgrounds and, through open dialogue, empowers students to form strong peer relationships and to make their school/community more inclusive and accepting of diversity.
This year, 60 participants attended the overnight event, January 31 – February 1. PCDS seniors Morgan Schwartz and Michelle Greenfield organized and ran this event. They are both deeply committed to the message of Unitown, which bring students together and promotes both self-discovery and community awareness. Their dedication is a key factor in the continuation of this program at PCDS.
Asked about the value of Unitown, freshman delegate Kobe Walker said, “It made me aware of the community we have at PCDS. We are all different yet similar in our own ways.” Junior Anna Bodney returned as a student counselor. “Unitown was such a transformative experience for me,” she said, “it really shaped part of who I am today, allowing me to grow into a more mature and aware person.”
Jessica Raab, our college counselor, was a first-time faculty advisor. Reflecting, she said, “I am so impressed with the dedication and commitment of PCDS students to this program. The support within the group was really quite inspiring and powerful.” Lance Coon, longtime Unitown faculty advisor, added, “At the end, after 24 hours of hard work, even though I am tired, I come away feeling energized and with even greater respect for the values and hearts of our students.”
No wonder participants describe Unitown as a life changing experience. From deep reflection to tears of joy, all participants emerged with a deeper appreciation of our differences, invigorated to make positive changes for their school, their community, and the world.
Written by Tara Dugel:
My name is Tara Dugel, and I am a sophomore at PCDS. My passion is the language arts. Accordingly, I am the poetry editor of my school’s writing forum, Font 3901, and have written stories for my school and various local publications. I love to travel and experience new cultures, and I have been to six out of the seven continents.
Photos by Kyle Money:
“Hi, my name is Kyle Money and I am a Junior at PCDS. Outside of school you can usually find me playing, coaching, or watching basketball. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of our school yearbook, The Phoenician, and I love doing photography.”
In Photo: (Left to Right)Morgan Schwartz, Tara Dugel (Junior Reporter), and Michelle Greenfield