Kristen Lipkewich painted three instalments focused on the issue of women’s rights and equality. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley teacher: Student actions speak to a bright future

Seniors at R.E. Mountain Secondary create a year-long project aimed at fighting for social justice.

by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance

R.E. Mountain Secondary seniors have quite a few ideas on how to positively change their community.

The Grade 12 social justice class is taking a course designed to explain the distribution of wealth, as well as the opportunities and privileges within society.

Along with other classes across the province, the Mountain team members have been challenged to complete a year-long project that combats any injustice they see within their community.

“Actions are exactly what it sounds like,” explained teacher Daniel DenHaan. “A plan of action wherein the students try to impact the community in a positive way.”

DenHaan has been facilitating the ideas, research, planning, and implementation of their projects, but his students have been doing all the work.

The students have chosen to highlight social justice issues they see in their community, such as bullying, gender identity, aboriginal rights, and homelessness.

“I’m attempting to raise money for homeless veterans so we can start a food bank, soup kitchen and a shelter for the homeless,” noted 16-year-old Cali Charron.

Her project was inspired by her stepfather who has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from his time in the coast guard and navy.

“I couldn’t help [but] think about the people who have mental illness sitting out in the cold and the heat. It was an awful thing to see people who fought for your country not have a home or clean clothes or food,” explained the teen.

These social justice project were designed for students to drive their passions into actions.

“I wanted students to take the topics and issues we were discussing in class and extend them beyond the walls of the portable,” DenHaan said.

“In order to do the project justice, I needed to give the students time throughout the year to work at their own pace.”

Once the students identified their area of passion, the research began.

They had to decide on a problem, create a plan of action that addressed that problem, implement the plan, evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts, reflect on the experience, then create a visual presentation.

“I would definitely recommend this project to other students, because we got to do the project on something we are interested or passionate about,” said 18-year-old Gigi Mowatt.

Her inspiration came from being First Nations and noticing how their issues were not being “paid attention to as much as others,” Mowatt said.

“Their presentations are a snapshot of all the amazing things that students are doing to fight social injustice across the province,” the teacher explained.

And those presentations will be put on display at the school Monday, June 11 between 12:30 and 4 p.m. in portable 13.

“I’m not sure the greater community is necessarily aware of all of this and so we thought this could be a great chance for any interested members of the community to come, listen, interact, learn and hopefully get excited about what their young adults are doing,” DenHaan said.

“I am excited to be a small part of the whole [and] to see the students working and starting to experience the idea that change, both historical and modern, is created in and by individuals.

“I, as their teacher, am proud of and excited about the bright future that they represent.”


Elly Brotherton created a garden intended to explore sustainability, to help restore the honey bee population, and to provide food for the homeless, all in one. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Elly Brotherton created a garden intended to explore sustainability, to help restore the honey bee population, and to provide food for the homeless, all in one. (Special to the Langley Advance)

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