Students and faculty at The Grauer School in Encinitas have declared this year to be “The Year of Activism” as part of a campus-wide commitment to student activism. To date, they have marched to demand action on climate change, raised money to protect the ocean and animals harmed during the Australian wildfires and implemented sustainable practices including training on composting and recycling.
“At The Grauer School, we believe it is important not only for students to master the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond, but to put those skills in practice through hands-on experience,” said Dr. Stuart Grauer, founder and head of school. “Through activism in areas they are passionate about, students hone their curiosity, develop knowledge and experience the satisfaction of community service.”
One local student who has been committed to making a difference is Encinitas junior Thalia Miracle, the co-president of the school’s Girl Rising Club chapter and ASB vice president of sustainability, a new position created this year.
“Youth activism is critical to building a path for future leaders and advocating for the beliefs and values of the next generation,” Thalia said.
Girl Rising is a national group focused on ensuing that girls around the world are educated and empowered. Recently, the Grauer Girl Rising chapter held a benefit concert to raise money for a girls’ school in Kenya. As part of the school’s expeditionary learning program, Thalia and her fellow classmates got the opportunity to visit Kenya last year.
“It was incredible,” Thalia said of the opportunity to learn by discovery, to meet the girls they were helping and see how much value they placed on getting an education. “It’s such a different standard from Western society where we take things like that for granted.”
Thalia said the trip reignited her passion for the cause and kept her focused on The Grauer School chapter’s annual purpose. In addition supporting the Kenyan school, the Girl Rising chapter also hosted students from the Kansai Soka School in Osaka, Japan, for an educational exchange program on nuclear disarmament.
Thalia advocated for the new sustainability position on ASB this year using the school’s student proposal project, which teaches entrepreneurship and communication.
As she has taken a deep interest in sustainable living and the environment, she made her proposal to teacher Christina Burress, who sponsored her effort. Like-minded classmates in the Sustainability Club meet to discuss different topics, organize speakers and plan activities and events to make a difference in their local community.
The Sustainability Club organized a walkout to focus awareness on combating climate change, in conjunction with the Global Climate Strike in September—about 130 students hit the streets in the rain. “We went out and made some noise,” Thalia said.
The club also spearheaded a campus ban on the use of plastic cutlery, encouraging students to bring silverware from home and sourcing from a local company top sell bamboo utensils as an alternative—a simple switch that promises to make a positive impact with less plastic waste on campus.
Furthering the school’s activism theme this year, the senior class held an Activist Fair in December, showcasing their projects on such issues as sustainability, conservation, eco-stewardship, beach cleanup, domestic abuse, food waste and food insecurity, electric vehicles and awareness of social media consumption.
Even former students have continued their activism. Last year, 2014 Grauer School alumna Savanah Stuart founded Little Hooves Rescue, a nonprofit that rescues miniature horses from kill pens around the country. To date, she has rescued over 30 animals and placed them in good homes.
Thalia said she credits Grauer for making her feel supported to explore her passions and confident in her ability to have a platform to make things happen on campus through the proposal process.
“They encourage you to get your voice out there,” she said.