Newton Country Day students attend Teach-In for Justice

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In October, six Newton Country Day School students joined more than 2,000 others in Washington, D.C., for the Ignatian Solidarity Network's 25th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. This year, the advocacy priorities included climate change and immigration reform.

"The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is a wonderful opportunity for NCDS students to explore how the faith and spirituality that animate our school can inform our actions and transform our world," said Dr. Mark Potter, chair of the Religious Studies Department and director of community service at NCDS. "Surrounded by thousands of high school students, college students, and young adults, our students learn from the examples of peers how to articulate the deep values that motivate their hopes for the world, and then how to find creative and courageous ways to live out those values in pursuing peace and justice."

The 2022 theme, Rooted and Renewing, invited attendees to root themselves in the history of the Teach-In and the legacy of the Jesuit martyrs and their companions and to renew a commitment to addressing today's injustices with creativity, courage, and resilience -- traits embodied by the first Teach-In in Georgia 25 years ago.

"I was interested in attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In to learn more about social justice issues and how my faith can impel myself and others to help combat these injustices," explained Carys Riffe '24. "It was inspiring to see how many people came together in unison. No matter how small the notion may seem, you can always begin the change and inform others of the prevalent issues and how they can help."

In addition to hearing keynote speakers discuss racial and cultural equity and inclusion, sustainability, climate justice, and immigration reform, NCDS girls had the opportunity to meet other students from across the country and from around the Sacred Heart Network of schools.

"The most memorable moment for me was meeting other Sacred Heart girls," said Nora Donovan '24. "Two were from Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York and one was from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Maryland. We met some of their faculty and sat down for lunch, eventually spending the afternoon together because we all got along so well. After learning so many different stories from the incredible speakers, we could discuss our shared memories from the weekend and really engage with one another. It was so great to meet others with shared traditions and experiences."

"I was excited to be around a lot of people, specifically young people, who value many of the same things that I do," added Farrah Coleman '24. "Hearing touching and inspiring speeches from people the same age as me was just really motivating. My biggest takeaway was learning all the ways people are actively working towards social justice. It also taught me more about the social justice crisis and the personal stories connected to them."

"My biggest takeaway from the weekend was feeling a real sense of community," Donovan continued. "Sometimes I feel like that word gets thrown around a lot, but during the Ignatian Family Teach-In, I actually felt all of the positive connotations spoken about 'community.' The general kindness and sense of belonging from everyone was enlightening. Everyone was so grateful to be there together. Not only did we find community in other Sacred Heart girls, but in breakout groups within the conference where we could meet new people, ask questions, and fully participate. Connecting with so many different people, from schools and colleges all over the world, really made the word 'community' come to life."