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Lower Merion School District

Off-Canvas

Student-led Conference Builds on Architecture of Activism

About 175 students from Harriton and Lower Merion high schools participated in the annual student-led SAGE (Students Advocating for Greater Equality) Conference at Harriton High School on April 16, 2024. This year's conference theme was the "Architecture of Activism." 

Students led workshops for their peers on topics they chose, including political extremism, body image and concepts of physical beauty, colonialism and land rights, gender, mental health, and the role of art in activism. Student leaders shared informational presentations they had researched and prepared, and engaged participants in interactive activities to build understanding of how to advance causes that resonate with them. 

The conference opened with a keynote speech by Harriton High School alumnus, Eric Settle ('79), who is running for Pa. Attorney General for the Forward Party, which was founded by former Democrats and former Republicans to counter political polarization.

He shared his personal history, including how he began his activism by speaking out about retaining a favorite music teacher when he was in high school and then leading a petition drive regarding student housing in college, before eventually running for public office and working as a lobbyist.

He also spoke about the importance of finding common ground to combat political extremism and solve pressing problems. He also shared how, in his personal experience, what appear to be losses at first can turn into wins in the long run. 

During a Lunch and Learn panel discussion, the students learned about women's history on the Main Line. Panelists included Erin Bentley, a board member of the Lower Merion Historical Society who’s done intensive research into local women's history; Jenny Rose Carey, a local horticulturalist and author with expertise on the women who founded key organizations such as the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women and the Garden Club of America; and Rebecca Fisher, a historian with Beyond the Bell Tours, who gives walking tours of the Philadelphia area highlighting the history of people who are often marginalized.

The SAGE advisors are Ms. Andrea Wilson-Harvey at Harriton and Ms. Laura Stiebitz at Lower Merion. 

To see photos from the conference, click through the slide show below:

The Harriton ram sculpture in the foregournd with SAGE conference sign behind it
LMHS and Harriton SAGE leaders at podium
Students gather at check-in table to get their nametags and workshop assignments.
A sign on the auditorium door with the workshops listed
Students get their nametags at check-in table.
SAGE leaders in green shirts seated at the front of the auditorium
The ram sculpture in front of the SAGE conference sign on the auitorium door.
Keynote speaker Eric Settle at the podium
Mr. Settle at the podium during his keynote speech.
A student leader stands next to Mr. Settle during Q&A
Harriton SAGE Advisor Ms. Wilson-Harvey at the podium
Students present their workshop in the auditorium
SAGE leader in a green tshirt speaks to students in the auditorium
Three student leaders during their presentation
Students participate in a workshop in the LGI
Students seated in the Large Group Instruction room.
Students participate in a workshop led by students in green t-shirts.
Two students in green t-shirts lead a workshop
Students listen to a workshop in the library.
Students sitting in the library for a workshop
Students in the library listen during a workshop about art in activism
Students sit in the library during the workshop on art in activism
Students listen during a workshop on political extremism.
Students present during a workshop on the rise of political extremism.
A leader presents during a workshop on beauty and body positivity
Student sit on the floor and engage in a workshop activity on body positivity
Students at a table during a workshop on gender
Students listen during a workshop on body image
Students listen during the art in activism workshop
Students listen during the art in activism workshop
Students present their workshop on the use of art to promote activism
Students listen during a workshop presentation
Student leaders share their presentation
Students listen during a workshop presentation
Students listen during a workshop presentation
Students listen during a workshop presentation
Students present a workshop about how political extremism develops
Students in auditorium seats listen during a workshop
Students eat lunch in the cafeteria prior to the lunch and learn panel
A student leader introduces the afternoon panel.
One of the afternoon panelists speaks into a microphone
One of the afternoon panelists in the background, with students at cafeteria tables in the foreground
One of the afternoon panelists in the background, with students at cafeteria tables in the foreground
One of the afternoon panelists shows a photo of the Penn Treaty tree on the Haverford College campus.
One of the afternoon panelists speaks into a mic in the cafeteria.
Two students speak with an afternoon panelist at the end of the event.
SAGE Advisor, Ms. Lauren Stiebitz, speaks into the microphone

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