Global Classroom Awards

Roosevelt High School
1410 NE 66th Street
Seattle, WA 98115
Principal: Brian Vance
School Contact: Janine Magidman, Teacher
Essay Author: Autumn Lerner, World Affairs Council

Many Hands for Global Understanding

In the fall of 2007, students and teachers from Northern Ireland, Serbia, and the United States met at Roosevelt High School (RHS) in Seattle, Washington. Organized by RHS's Student Equity Council Club and the Hands for a Bridge program, the students engaged in open dialogue about tolerance and prejudice in the U.S. In a list of what they found most inspirational during their visit to the United States, the Serbian students, members of the Serbian Youth Leadership initiative hosted by the World Affairs Council, responded that this event had motivated them to organize extra-curricular activities, empower young people, and improve interethnic relations upon their return to Serbia.

The Student Equity Council Club focuses on social justice issues within the RHS community. The club strives to educate students about race, class, privilege, age, ability, ethnicity, and religion and how these can impact students' lives. RHS students actively learn to live in a diverse world and to treat others with dignity and respect; an important knowledge-set in their diverse environment. The school's student body is comprised of 41% minority groups and approximately 11% limited English-speaking proficiency students, while 18% of RHS's students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The Hands for a Bridge program builds on this culture of understanding and challenges students to apply it at the global level. Hands for a Bridge was created by three RHS teachers with the vision of helping American students understand diversity and equity issues in their local and international communities. The program includes educational projects at RHS, as well as international exchanges. Since inception, students have participated in four exchanges with schools in Northern Ireland, and many RHS students have developed lasting cross-cultural relationships. In order to effectively serve RHS's diverse student body, Hands for a Bridge has adopted a collective-debt model, ensuring that students willing to participate are able to travel, regardless of their ability to pay. As of 2008, over 200 students and 10 RHS faculty members have participated in this program.

In 2007, international study groups from RHS visited South Africa, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, China, Morocco, Egypt, France, and Japan. The groups went for various reasons, including focuses on drama, history, international understanding, and language acquisition. One such program, Roosevelt in Rome, supported Ancient Latin and Classical Studies at RHS. Through such diverse activities as climbing Mt. Vesuvius, scaling the steps of St. Peter's dome, and touring the Jewish Synagogue and Ghetto near the Tiber River, students were able to connect what they had learned in the classroom with field study.

RHS also supports international students, as well as delegations from the World Affairs Council's International Visitors Program. The school has hosted students and delegations from Brazil, Serbia, Japan, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Ukraine. In addition to including international visitors in school visits, RHS faculty, students, and parents have hosted visitors through home-stays and arranged cultural activities to expand their understanding of the United States, including poetry slams, break-dancing competitions, and museums visits.

RHS is dedicated to educating its students about the world and, in turn, educating the world through its students. They have proven their commitment to global understanding with their inclusive international programs, such as Hands for a Bridge, student exchanges, and study abroad opportunities. With their programming, RHS will continue to inspire change at home and abroad.