There’s UNITY in the CommUNITY at SJHHS

Last+week%2C+BRIDGES+and+DIRHA+organizations+at+SJHHS+held+their+third+Unity+Week.+At+lunch+breaks%2C+the+student+groups+held+presentations+of+different+topics+each+day%2C+ranging+from+mental+health+to+immigration.

Gabby Laurente

Last week, BRIDGES and DIRHA organizations at SJHHS held their third Unity Week. At lunch breaks, the student groups held presentations of different topics each day, ranging from mental health to immigration.

Nikki Iyer, News Editor

Unity Week made its third comeback this past week at SJHHS, educating students on topics ranging from mental health to immigration in the theater during lunch. 

About 50 people pitched in to guarantee Unity Week’s success, including students, teachers, and numerous guest speakers. Students from BRIDGES, a club at SJHHS developed and maintained by OC Human Relations aiming to address campus climate, and DIRHA, another  organization advocating diversity on campus and equitable education, spent their January and February drafting presentations, coordinating guest speakers, and preparing for the culmination of two months of lunch meetings and hard work. 

The week was composed of five different lunch presentations: mental health, immigration, race/racism, gender equality, and ability equality. Each seminar included student presenters, guest speakers, and an activity.

“I would hope that [Unity Week] opens peoples’ eyes, or minds in a way, that they’re just more aware of certain situations or certain topics and they’re more careful, on what they say or what they do,” said DIRHA member, junior Rosa Hernandez.

The DIRHA (Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Healing Program) organization is a program organized by UCI, where they are able to attend seminars at the college relating to racism and diversity. On the other hand, BRIDGES is more local to SJHHS, prioritizing their efforts on improving student relations on campus. 

I would hope that [Unity Week] opens peoples’ eyes, or minds in a way, that they’re just more aware of certain situations or certain topics and they’re more careful, on what they say or what they do.”

— Rosa Hernandez

BRIDGES member, senior Isabella Poppen, states that the club is specifically working on mending the gap between hispanic and white students on campus. This notes upon the alleged separation at lunch break where hispanic students tend to group in the lower quad, and white students tend to group in the upper quad. Lunch activities— during spirit weeks for example—  tend to be held in the upper quad, so BRIDGES is also working to bring more lunch activities to the lower quad, in hopes to provide equal opportunities for student participation. 

As a four-year member of BRIDGES, Poppen notes that compared to previous years, the turnout at Unity Week has significantly improved. While the first year they spent much of their time promoting and advertising students to attend, this year they had the opposite issue: they didn’t have enough capacity for all interested students. 

“We had to turn people away, which we were really happy about. We felt really bad, but we were so thrilled,” said Poppen.

BRIDGES and DIRHA members mention that SJHHS students have been very receptive to their presentations, and hope to yield a positive effect on campus. The organizations hope to continue the Unity Week tradition on campus for many years to come.