Lina Chihoub ‘21 and Jack Granahan ‘20
Ever since the incident last fall that rocked our community, Lawrence High School has struggled under the weight of an inaccurate image influenced heavily by the media. In response, administrators, teachers, and students alike have consistently expressed that these perceptions, which characterize LHS as “racist” and “unsafe,” do not represent our school or community. One group in particular has been playing an especially proactive role in showcasing the core values—diversity, respect, and opportunity—that truly define LHS: International Alliance (IA).
“We want to restore Lawrence’s pride and image in the eyes of districts and counties nationwide.”
International Alliance is a club at LHS that meets every Friday after school to increase its members’ and the public's awareness of different cultures. In the past, this goal has taken the form of events, such as Garba Night and Polish Night, as well as presentations by students about their heritage. However, since the incident at the Homecoming Game, the club has been focusing more on establishing closer connections between the variety of racial, ethnic, and religious groups that are a part of the Lawrenceville community. On December 12, 2019, IA hosted an hour-long event at the school library called Unity Day. Student representatives from other clubs, sports, and groups at the school were invited to attend to share their opinions on how the incident made them feel, what should be done in response, and what attributes they loved about LHS. The meeting culminated in the creation of a new hashtag, #cardinalsculture, along with plans for a LHS Selfie Challenge. Furthermore, a video montage is currently in production. In order to get a deeper feel for the importance Unity Day had to participants, we interviewed several attendees.
Q: What is your goal in coming to this meeting? Vishal Madisetty and Suraj Kura (‘21): We want to restore Lawrence’s pride and image in the eyes of districts and counties nationwide. Jonah Adler and Rhea Phadke (‘23): We hope to bring our community together. Courtney Williams and Jezele Adongo (‘22): We want to learn about other people’s opinions on the incident and how we should react to it.
In addition to reaching out school-wide, IA has also sought to strengthen relationships between its own members. They have held more team-building activities at weekly meetings. One example is “Discussion Days,” in which small groups discuss questions designed to get students to know each other better, such as “What main holiday do you celebrate?”
The officers of IA are hopeful that their initiatives will positively impact the school and circulate an accurate reputation of LHS. Their opinions are quoted:
Q: Why is what your club is doing for LHS important? Jumana Khalifa (‘20): “Racism is an issue that is always prevalent but often ignored. The occurrence at the Homecoming Game brought it to the surface, forcing the community to address it. What we’re doing ensures that our school does something to not let the students who aren’t affected by racism forget that they have a role in stopping hate.”
Hadi Raza (‘21): “The purpose of our club is for people to feel free while celebrating their culture, so we felt that it was our responsibility to help unite the community.”
Pranav Phadke (‘20): “Publicizing what we do at IA will make our own school more aware of the cultural events that we host, as well as the fact that multiple cultures are represented. I feel that a good amount of the school doesn’t realize there is a club where they can safely express their religious, racial, and ethnic identity.”
Neel Revankar (‘21): “As a club we felt it was important to show that LHS is filled with diversity and we are proud of it.”
Both IA and LHS faculty have many events, programs, and challenges planned for community members to express their concerns and show others why we love Lawrenceville. Stay tuned for updates and feel free to contact IA Advisor Ms. Quddus (email@example.com) or Principal Mr. Adam (firstname.lastname@example.org) at anytime with your ideas!