Annecia Thomas (left) and Sarah Kwak (right)
Two Kamloops high school students are working to create a more inclusive environment in School District 73 and across the province.
Sarah Kwak, a 12th grade high school student from Sa-Hali, and Annecia Thomas, a 11th grade high school student from South Kamloops, spoke to the SD73 school board on Monday to share their plans.
“We aim to recognize the importance of educating our peers through videos, monthly posters, participating in conversations on difficult topics, reflecting on different events and raising funds for organizations that work for the societal change,” Kwak said at the meeting.
Kwak launched the Sa-Hali Social Justice Club early last year and is social media manager for Motion of Colour, a local student organization focused on racial justice through youth-led discussions and a educational approach to the fight against racism.
“Organizations like Motion of Color and clubs like mine play an important role in the community,” she said. “I hope that students can establish themselves and participate in these communities in order to grow, learn and evolve as future leaders.”
According to SD73, the Sa-Hali Social Justice Club plans to expand the circle of solidarity alongside the Thomas Social Activism Club at SKSS, as well as through the Student Anti-Racism Leadership Council run by the Deputy Superintendent Vessy Mochikas.
As part of a joint project, Thomas is piloting a fundraiser for Black History Month with Kwak’s club.
“It is our collective goal to be able to create social change through education, solidarity and student leadership to make our school an anti-racist space,” Thomas said.
Thomas also hosts a Motion of Color podcast and was named to the BC Ministry of Education’s Social Justice Dialogues with Youth Series as part of the Kindergarten Anti-Racism Action Plan. in Grade 12 from the Ministry of Education.
Thomas and 22 other BC youth will spend the year working with Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside on the anti-racism action plan.
“Creating an equal education system takes many steps,” Thomas said. “And by bringing it to the provincial level, it expands the possibility of making changes on a larger scale. I am happy to expand my experience and passion for social justice by representing my lived experiences with racism.
SD73 said the next step for Kwak and Thomas is to develop a survey for students and district staff to collect information about people’s lived experience with racism, and from there they will develop resources and kits.
Mochikas said that with the help of the students, the district will organize training and education sessions for staff.
“While we recognize that we have many plans in the works and ambitious goals, we also recognize that we have a long way to go,” Mochikas said. “I have no doubt with student leaders such as Sarah and Annecia in the lead, adults will continue to learn at a faster rate than we would without them.”