- Colleen Tanona ’22 & Audrey Basta ’23
The Social Justice Teach In, a crucial event in one’s Sacred Heart education that celebrates Goal III (social awareness that impels to action), was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The SJTI takes a lot of preparation and hard work from student leaders and faculty, and because of this, it is an event that many look forward to all year. For those who have not experienced it, the SJTI looks at a social justice issue selected by the community based on how pressing it is at the given moment. Then, presentations are given by students, faculty, and experts who have immense experience with the topic. It brings the community together and also helps the school to live out its five goals, with a special emphasis on the third one. Due to the coronavirus and school being closed one day before the event was supposed to take place, the SJTI might not have a chance to teach the community about the causes and effects of climate change and what we can do to stop it. According to SJTI Faculty Advisor Dr. Hennessy, “the event was coming together as one of the best SJTIs we’ve ever had.” Climate change is an extremely prevalent issue in our society and many students and faculty at SHP have been working all year to educate our community about the immense impact that it will have on life as we know it. However, Dr. Hennessy assured the HeartBeat that the organizers working on the SJTI are “redoubling their efforts to make the SJTI extra special next year.”
Students who have put ample time and effort into the SJTI are very worried and because it is such an important issue, they feel it is their duty to the community to educate them about the issue. Caroline Salame ’22, who helped to organize the “Fun with the nuns (and the earth)” session, was really excited to teach the student body about everything that she had learned. Caroline regards the SJTI as, “a wonderful experience where you are able to learn and inform others about issues in the community. It’s a shame it was cancelled because it would have been a great time to open our minds to important matters in our society.” This session in particular would have been a great place to connect religion with climate change, stressing the need that as a catholic school that we must take care of all creation.
As it is an extremely enlightening experience that opens up opportunities to reconsider large issues through a new light, many students and faculty who were going to attend the SJTI were also very concerned. The SHP community may not get to hear any of the information and concepts that their classmates and students spent so much time learning about until a much later date, which is not ideal when dealing with an urgent climatic problem. When asked about the SJTI and its cancellation, one anonymous student said, “I was looking forward to the SJTI because it was a highlight of my year last year. I am sad it [is] cancelled because it is a day where the student body could come together and relax for a day but also learn about the very important issue of climate change.” The sentiment expressed by this student is one that many resonate with as a break from our busy lives to talk about social justice issues can be a very reflective and bonding experience for the entire community. Due to the fact that the event is such a beloved and special time for the SHP community, it is understandable why many people are feeling this way about the potential cancellation.
The SJTI’s leaders, though unsure about how to replace the hard work and effort put in by many students to make the event possible for the end of this school year, have hope for the opportunities that will present themselves in the future to educate the community. During the time away from campus, the student body, faculty, and staff must stay mindful about ways to become informed about climate change and work to support the goals of the SJTI.
Photo of Jonathan Han’s ’22 artwork that was in Campbell before school closure.