Organizing Peace Action in High Schools: Start with the PTA!
By Sally Jones – Peace Action of Staten Island
I was invited to speak about Peace Action at the Curtis High School Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting on May 14th by the co-chair of the PTA. I had 15 minutes. There were about 20-25 parents & teachers there. I thought it was a great opportunity and tried to represent Peace Action as best as I could. Here, very briefly, are some points in the talk.. Maybe this will give you an idea about speaking at your local high school. If you do, let us know how it goes, too. We learn from each other this way.
So here, briefly, are points I made.
- The parents & teachers in the PTA are clearly working as hard as they can to get their students through high school and come out of it as whole and as fulfilled as they possible can be. They are an impressive, dedicated group.
- Peace Action is right there with them. We want the next generation to grow up as whole as possible and for them to grow up into a world without war.
- In the 21st century, most people agree that war is an obsolete tool. It isn’t the answer to conflict and it doesn’t work. Same thing with nuclear weapons. They are obsolete too. We need to start working concretely on making war and nuclear weapons obsolete. And part of the solution means we must start with our children.
- We went over some ideas for connecting Peace Action to the students at Curtis High School:
- Peace Action passes out non-military Options after High School material every Parent-Teacher night. Would Curtis High help us expand on the options list? Our students should have as many alternatives as possible to choose from — other than war. (At the meeting, I learned that Hyundai is opening up a plant on Staten Island and the high school is hoping to have internships at the plant that would turn into jobs.)
- Peace Action organizes forums on important issues (Iraq, Afghanistan, drones, post-storm recovery, Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration, health care, etc.). We would love to partner with Curtis High on organizing future forums. The most recent one at College of Staten Island on Immigration Reform included CSI students and could be a model.
- Peace Action NYS has summer internship opportunities. I talked about the legislative lobbying, move the money, and other projects the interns take up.
- Organize a student chapter at Curtis High.
- Take on the project of installing a Peace Pole at Curtis. (There already is one at Susan Wagner High School!)
After the talk, I got to speak to some parents — interested in the idea of the Peace Pole, a club, and internships. I gave out Peace Action pens and the 2 co-chairs each got a gift – one a PASI t-shirt, one a Make Food Not War apron. Most of the literature was picked up that I left at the table and some signed up for more information.
I thought most everyone there, like me, had had a long day and was pretty tired, but they listened and maybe I was able to plant some seeds.
Sally Jones – Peace Action of Staten Island