The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 21, 2024

Accepted LASJ students attend Welcome Night to explore Whitman programs

Ella Werkman
The event introduced prospective students and their families to the program’s core principles, classes and community.

On Feb. 7, Whitman hosted an LASJ (Leadership Academy for Social Justice) Welcome Night in the commons. The event introduced prospective students and their families to the program’s core principles, classes and community. 

In 2023, Whitman joined the special programs lottery in Montgomery County, allowing students from other parts of the county to attend Whitman starting in ninth grade as part of the LASJ program. At the end of January, the school invited 30 students from across the county to LASJ Welcome Night. The prospective students learned more about the program in order to make a decision by Feb. 14 about whether to join it, said lead LASJ teacher Sheryl Freedman. 

Freedman described the program as a comprehensive initiative designed to instill ideas of social justice and empower students to enact positive change within their communities. She emphasized the program’s focus on identity, diversity, justice and action.

“Our goal for the program is to help students build the capacity to understand what is happening historically and currently to improve their world,” Freedman said. “I think the program has given some students a broader perspective of history and others experiences and identities.”

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The event provided attendees with a glimpse into the LASJ’s offerings, including tours of the school, presentations on the curriculum and discussions with current students and faculty. 

Junior Sara Corbett, a member of the LASJ panel, said she enjoyed the class because it connected her to a group with similar interests.

“My favorite part is the community LASJ has, because once you see someone else is in LASJ, you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself,” Corbett said. “You are a part of something in which everyone shares a common goal and everyone is fighting for the same thing.” 

Prospective students noted the opportunity to dive deeper into subjects like African American studies, women’s studies and environmental justice, which are usually unavailable within traditional high school curricula.

A prospective student’s parent voiced their desire for a place that valued individuals and embraced varied perspectives, emphasizing the importance of avoiding stagnation in educational approaches. 

“I wanted a place for her to learn that was progressive and had a diversity of offerings, and felt like a place that valued people and wasn’t stuck in one idea,” the parent said.

Junior Malakia Gopal, another LASJ student, praised the program’s unique curriculum and opportunities for exploring social justice issues at both global and local levels.

“LASJ means to me exploring different parts of my identity in so many different ways and how my identity impacts the world around me,” Gopal said. “It’s about learning things that are more local, so you can know about things that can quite happen down the road from here.”

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Ella Werkman
Ella Werkman, News Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join the Black and White? To grow as a writer, and learn new things that I didn't know before. What is your favorite board game? Scattergories  

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    Sheila MckennaFeb 13, 2024 at 4:59 pm

    Indoctrination into one world order