New Club on the Block

Senior Starts New Amnesty International Chapter

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Photo by Isa Morgan

Presenting in front of the class, senior Jaden Kolenbrander introduces students to his new chapter of Amnesty International Club. The club, started by Kolenbrander, will serve as a way for CPHS students to speak out and educate themselves about political issues and will hold meetings on the third Tuesday of each month in room 5009. “Anyone who is interested in increasing their involvement in the community and advocating for far-reaching issues that affect everyone [can join],” Kolenbrander said. “However, we also want to emphasize that anyone can become an advocate. It’s a good opportunity for them to become more involved in their community and learn about the importance of human rights advocacy.”

Isa Morgan, Reporter

With human rights being at the forefront of politics, Amnesty International is encouraging students to research and learn more about the current social issues happening around them. The organization was founded in July 1961 by Peter Benenson and Eric Baker and was created to focus around human rights. Today Amnesty International has over 10 million members that support their cause around the world. The organization also allows for student chapters to be created in schools in order to research and learn more about what they stand for.

The club is called the Amnesty International Club and it will serve as a way for CPHS students to speak out and educate themselves about political issues, according to this chapter’s creator, senior Jaden Kolenbrander. The club will run similarly to other preexisting clubs, requiring hours and holding regular meetings all to provide a chance for students to get more involved in current topics happening around them.

“I learned about Amnesty International clubs through one of my friends at another high school,” Kolenbrander said. “I feel like learning about human rights is pretty important because these are the rights that ensure a high standard of quality of life for everybody. It’s better to be young and learn about these issues and how when you grow up you can learn more about it, talk more about it, [and be] more educated about it. I think that’s a good thing to be.”

Meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of each month in Room 5009. They will be centered around current global and domestic issues by going through slideshows and holding group seminars and activities relating to these topics.

“The club will focus on providing a platform for CPHS students to speak out and educate themselves about important political issues domestically and internationally such as free speech, refugee rights and climate change,” Kolenbrander said. “The majority of the club will be the leadership of the club going through our slideshow discussing any updates for the club and then going through global and domestic current events and giving examples of advocacy projects based on those current events. The last five minutes of the club are available for students to work on their advocacy projects or to discuss the content of the slideshow.”

Similar to other clubs, the Amnesty International Club will still require hours and participation during scheduled meetings. In the first semester, Kolenbrander only plans for one required hour. Though the club is only requiring two hours in the second semester, both of the required commitments will be focused on the effort to become more socially aware of the social issues around students.

“One of our required hours will be writing a letter, which will be the one required hour in the first semester to go with the Write for Rights campaign, but the other hours will be miscellaneous,” Kolenbrander said. “I offered examples of making a social media post that has a certain amount of impressions or making a poster that links to an Amnesty International fundraiser and hanging it up in the school. However, there will be a wide range of activities that we accept as an hour. I want to make sure that members have a variety of ways to express their commitment to human rights.”

Since this is the first year for Amnesty International to be introduced to the school, Kolenbrander plans to keep its first year less demanding, but according to him, there could be bigger plans for years to come. Seeing as though the original organization is a well-established place for human rights advocacy, plans for becoming more involved in events hosted by the group can be seen for future years. But for now, he’s doing what he can to ensure the club follows what Amnesty International is focused on currently.

“Amnesty International is currently holding a campaign called ‘Write for Rights,’’ which is basically where you write letters to politicians about various human rights issues that the Amnesty International website directs you to do,” Kolenbrander said. “It’s a highly encouraged activity by the Amnesty International organization, so I decided to make it one of our required hours to try and fit in with that.”

Although this is a club that handles more serious topics, Kolenbrander wants to ensure that anyone can join. The chapter is specifically looking for students who have an interest in advocating social issues and is open to anyone who is interested in educating themselves on these topics.

“Anyone who is interested in increasing their involvement in the community and advocating for far-reaching issues that affect everyone [can join],” Kolenbrander said. “However, we also want to emphasize that anyone can become an advocate. It’s a good opportunity for them to become more involved in their community and learn about the importance of human rights advocacy.”

Currently, Kolenbrander is working on bringing attention to the new club and setting up its first official meeting. The chapter’s creator is planning on partnering up with current members of the club and students involved in media-heavy electives to help gain the attention of more students who might be interested in what the club has to offer.

“The only club that is similar to us is the debate team,” Kolenbrander said. “They’re not human rights-focused, but they do talk about social issues and debate about them. I feel like what sets them apart is that I focus more on the media advocacy part of it. I want to focus more on writing letters, creating social media posts, posters and any media we can create. We have broadcast students on our team [whom] I may even allow to make videos advocating for human rights. I feel like with the rise of social media nowadays it’s incredibly important to learn how to create media that can have a far reach. That’s what our club is going to focus on, making media that achieves that effect for important causes like human rights.”

If you are interested in becoming a member of Amnesty International Club, students can either contact the club’s sponsor, Mr. Babich, or email Kolenbrander at [email protected] for more information about joining and meeting times.