Arizona Education Association

Spring 2017

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the nation to film Mix-It-Up day. They captured festivities and interviewed kids to highlight the event on their website promoting tolerance education. Culture Fest featured art, music, food, dancing, karaoke, henna tattoos, and more from various campus groups and individuals such as Spanglish club, art club, photo club, culinary club, Best Buddies, poetry club, folkloric dance group, student council, Japan club, sign language club, go green club, coding club, and the gay and straight alliance group. 22 ADVOCATE | SPRING 2017 Social Justice I nnovation and creative outlets spark an appreciation of individuality within Stephanie Sapakie's SPARK club or Students Promoting Attitudes of Respect and Kindness. Through artistic expression, collaborative outlets, and community outreach, students are making a positive impact. Sapakie, a Gilbert Education Association member and career and technical education teacher, provides transformative leadership at Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz. SPARK's goal is to provide a better understanding of individuals through unity and education, creating a sense of community to erase stereotypes and raise self-esteem for students and community members. SPARK was founded by Sapakie and 15 of her students in 2014, and has grown to 40 current members. SPARK club came to life because the creators realized there was a need for understanding and universal respect in our global community. SPARK meetings are a safe zone for students regardless of their religion, race, cultural background, sexual preference or identity. They feature gatherings to share personal experiences, gain support and exchange ideas to unify students and the community. They create educational opportunities and draw monthly guest speakers to enlighten attendants. Guests have been The Islamic Speaker's Bureau, ASU Buddhists for peace Club, ASU Institute for Civil Dialogue, Black Lives Matter, and AZ Humanities PBS screening of Don't Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie) about undocumented students in the US. Last year's series was kicked off on International Peace Day with The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. These events have been popular, and one student remarked, "Attending the seminar did me good...they had an open conversation on racial equality that I wouldn't get anywhere else." Broad communication is practiced by members as SPARKing Respect, Kindness and Celebrating Diversity & Individuality By Lisa Loschetter-Geusic Continues on p. 30 they use social media to promote statewide cultural events to followers and their families. The highlight the year before was Culture Fest and this past year, SPARK raised the bar pairing Culture Fest with Mix-It-Up Day on October 25, 2016, a day students are urged to sit with a new group of students at lunch in order to gain an understanding to promote peace and acceptance. The Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Ala. chose Highland as one of only three schools in Gilbert Education Association member Stephanie Sapakie founded SPARK club to promote unity through community outreach and artistic expression and events such as Culture Fest and Mix-It-Up Day.

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