Middle School United Nations Day 2013: “Creating a Human Rights Community”

by: Rannelle McCoy, MS Social Studies Teacher and UN Day Advisor
Christina Bakoyannis, MS Science Teacher and UN Day Advisor, ACS Athens

Ethos Magazine, Winter 2013, Vol 8 , Issue 1

The ACS Athens Middle School celebrated United Nations Day on October 24th, 2013. The theme this year was “Creating a Human Rights Community”. On that day, students gained an understanding of the work done by the United Nations, appreciated cultural diversity and focused on exploring human rights.

Girls Up Cause @ UN Day

The day began as an assembly in the theater where students were first introduced to human rights and the declaration of human rights.

Students’ attention was then drawn to the Girls Up Cause presented by Academy students Georgina Vriniotis, Isabelle Bloomfield and Madeleine Gerbracht. The Girls Up Cause unites girls in order to give all girls, no matter where they live, an education, health and safety. The Academy students presented how they came up with the idea and what motivated them to be part of this cause. Middle School students were urged to find a cause for themselves and become positive leaders in their community and world. Students left with a strong message and introduction to continue the day with their advisory groups.

3Appreciating our ACS Cultural Diversity

Advisory groups first appreciated the cultural diversity in our school and all the countries represented in our school. They created flags of their countries of origin which have since been put on display in the hallways of the Middle School. Later on, the groups bonded through an international lunch as students tasted the international dishes and shared the preparation of their dish. The mixed advisory groups of 6th, 7th and 8th graders were on their way to creating connections between them, an important aspect of advisory groups.

4Exploring Human Rights

Students further worked in their advisory groups to explore one specific Human Right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document of 1948. Students became leaders of the group through the direction of their teacher-facilitator. Through the brainstorming process, many questions were considered: What does the UN Declaration say about the Rights? What does it mean for children? What does that mean for us and our school?

Students went on to prepare a theatrical performance to exhibit their understanding of Human Rights to the school. Brainstorming, recording, and practicing was underway as students focused on the final product.

At the end of the day, the middle school gathered in the theater to watch the presentations of fifteen Human Rights articles from the UN Declaration.

Malala Yousafzai

To culminate the day, students viewed the video of Malala Yousafzai speaking to the United Nations General Assembly and Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 about the Right to Education. “Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapon. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” urged Malala.

As UN Day advisors, we would like to thank our Middle School colleagues for helping to make this day a success by guiding their advisory groups through the day and cooking a dish for their advisory group. A thank you to Ms. Sophia Soseilos for taking the time to create the beautiful display of the flags on the Middle School bulletin board. A very special thank you to the Academy students who presented the Girls Up Cause to the Middle School and served as positive role models. A thank you to the Middle School parents who helped make this day successful by either allowing their wonderful children to act as chefs in the kitchen, or by preparing the meal themselves for the advisory group. It made the day extra special and allowed each and every one of us to leave the campus with a full tummy and good stories to share with our loved ones.  And finally, a special thank you to the ones who matter most, our vivacious students who came to UN Day with an open heart, an open mind, and an empty stomach.