Students Discuss Human Rights With Community Leaders

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Rye Neck High School students welcomed four prominent community members to their school on April 4 for a panel discussion on “The Future of Race Relations.” Organized by senior Rebecca Tenner, junior Adesuwa Carlton and sophomore Noah Thurer as part of the Independent Learner Program, the event was designed to raised awareness and engage students in meaningful discussions.

“We realize how students have an active voice, and we can show that students’ initiative can really have an impact on our community,” Tenner said. “We hope that by doing this, students will be more aware of their community, who they are as a person and how they act towards [others] in certain situations.” 

The panelists included Jirandy Martinez, executive director of the Community Resource Center; Ernie Ricketts, security director at Rye Neck High School; Danielle Tagger-Epstein, Rye City councilwoman and chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Rye; and Sidney Young, a Rye Neck High School graduate who is a digital account specialist with background in music marketing, distribution, promotions and strategy. Each panelist shared their experiences and encouraged the students to do their part in making the world a better place. 

“You have a certain power in the world,” Young said. “You have to understand what power you have and use it in the positive effect. You have to think about it if you want to change the world around you.” 

Thurer said he and his classmates have taken on a leadership role in bringing the panel together to engage their peers in meaningful discussions about current issues and provide them with different perspectives.

“We lead by example in bringing this together and enabling the rest of the community in forming their own opinions and thinking for themselves about such topics as human rights in our world today,” he said. 

Carlton, who is working on a project that analyzes youth activism and the influence of musicians over time from the civil rights movement to the Black Lives Matter era, said she hopes the panel discussion encouraged students to take action in solving real-world problems.

“I hope they take away solutions to problems of racial inequality and also to think about people who are oppressed in society and do not have a voice and encourage them to have a voice and help others,” she said.