In a continuation of the 2011 “Turn out the Lights” event featuring Wellesley High School alumni, the high school will be hosting another event titled “Keep the Lights on, 2015” on March 13, 2015.  “Keep the Lights on, 2015” will feature alumni who regard themselves as social activists sharing their stories in how they became advocates for social justice.

The alumni will be at the high school throughout the day, starting with a breakfast with student leaders, followed by a visit to various classrooms and finally a panel discussion during purple block.

Former high school faculty Jeanie and Brooks Goddard began planning for “Keep the Lights On, 2015” and thanks to the current faculty, the high school will be welcoming Erika Sanzi ’91, Vanessa Martir ’93, Homa Mojtabai ’97, and Jody Peltason ’97.  These graduates are currently working as teachers, bloggers, executives and writers in a variety of cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

Sanzi writes for her own blog about her belief in the potential of children no matter their education and economic background.  Coming from Wellesley, she is aware of the privileges and opportunities available but strives to make these opportunities available for everyone.  “My belief that all children of all backgrounds have the same potential and deserve an excellent school is more important than the ‘friends’ I may lose along the way,” she said.

The idea of losing friends along the path of advocacy is something Peltason acknowledges, but in a slightly different light.  She stated that in struggling to find her voice for change, she dealt with internal battles, compromising her relationship with herself.  In sharing her story at the high school on Friday, Peltason hopes “to share a little with students about what these fears, distractions, and aversions have felt like specifically, and to share some thoughts about overcoming them.”

Examining one’s self is what Mojtabai wishes to speak about as well, but more so in terms of “the management of fear of change and failure.” Mojtabai writes for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency as well as the Los Angeles Times.  In January, she wrote “An Open Letter to the Men Who Ask Me Where I’m From as a Means of Initiating Romance” that touches on issues of gender, religion and heritage in America.

Another alumna, Martir, was an ABC student from Brooklyn that struggled with class conflict throughout her adult life.  Through her experiences, she was inspired to write about a number of issues including being a woman of color, a single mom, and family trauma.  Martir said that she “learned early on that [she] had to advocate for [her]self” and that this lesson lead her to her work at Teachers and Writers Collaborative in New York City, a program that i advocates for marginalized populations.

The high school administration initiated “Keep the Lights on, 2015” to follow up on recent national, international and local events that have been a reflection and celebration of activism in our society.  As teenagers, we have only begun to advocate for ourselves, but through exploration of our own and others’ stories, we have the ability to do much more.

(Natasha Ladhani ’16, Features Editor)


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