Students create advocacy art in Social Justice class


As the year draws to a close, projects and work are wrapping up in all classes. For Social Justice, a semester class mandatory for junior and senior classes, students just finished an art project focused on different Social Justice issues across the world and in their communities. 

Social Justice teacher Bernadette Raspante has used the project at previous schools.

“I realized that students, when we researched justice issues, it seemed so far away. So to try and make it something that feels closer so we can understand, I started having students create art about it.”

This allows for students to choose a topic that they are passionate about. They are given the liberty to explore any social justice topic they want to. 

Junior student Brooklyn Forbes decided to do a project about animal cruelty especially in the food industry because as a vegan it is an issue close to her heart. For the project, “I made a fake cake made of styrofoam and plaster. As well as a recipe card to go along with it and under the factory farmed ingredients I state some facts about cruel the truth behind the treatment of animals.” She is trying to show how the animals used in food, such as chickens, cows, and pigs are mistreated so a pretty cake people might eat comes from the mistreatment of animals. 

“One of my favorite YouTubers made these as a hobby a while back and while I was brainstorming I thought a fake cake could be fun to make; I always wanted to do it so I felt it was a perfect time,” Forbes said.

Forbes was just one of the students who made a creative project that was about an issue they felt connected to. According to Raspante, this year, “there are some really cool ones that bring attention to work rights…the drug epidemic in the United States…children in detention centers, etc….our students helped bring attention to the community in that way”.

Students also did projects centered around the building of the World Cup stadium and the many deaths around it, common stereotypes, restrictions of women’s rights, animal testing, and more. 

Perhaps the freedom to choose the project they wanted to, helped to make the project such a great success. Raspante spoke of how the project helps conversations in the classrooms.

“Students talk to one another about these issues they’ve been working around. [This] has been really great for conversation and awareness.”

The idea is to continue to do the project in the years to come as well to help continue these classroom conversations and expand student’s worldview on social justice issues around the world.

Senior Maddie Fleming also took a lot out of the project and enjoyed it. She did a skating routine to represent her issue.

“My project was a skating routine that was focused on the gender pay gap. The program was 100 seconds long, but after 82 seconds I just stood on the ice. This represented the 82 cents on the dollar that women make.” Fleming was able to use one of her talents, figure skating, to help enhance her project which shows just how creative students could be with the project. Some students painted, some made board games, just to name a few.

Fleming also learned a lot from the project after investigating the pay gap more.

“I think I learned a lot about the nuances of the gender pay gap through this project. Not only are women paid less than men on average, but there is an even bigger gap for women of color. If I were to expand this project, I would work to include something that features that in my project.”

Overall, the project allowed for students to learn more about social justice issues all over the world and see how issues are much closer to home than they might appear at first.