Fort High students lauding ‘We Day’
Thirty-four students from Fort Frances High School, along with four teachers, attended “We Day Minnesota” in St. Paul last week—a one day event that highlights a movement of young people leading local and global change.
“It was a really great experience,” said Grade 12 student Maisie Fichuk, a member of the school’s Student Leadership Council and “Me to We” co-ordinator.
The event, held at the Xcel Energy Centre, saw 18,000 people in attendance and an impressive line-up of speakers, like Martin Luther King III and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, along with performers Fifth Harmony, The Jonas Brothers, and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Other speakers included “Free The Children” co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, Spencer West, who lost his legs at the age of five, and Molly Burke, who lost her sight at age 14 and, as a result, experienced intense bullying in school.
“It was a learning experience,” echoed Grade 12 student and student council president Celia Berry, noting there was some talk about human rights.
“It was a different aspect—it gave you something to think about,” she added.
Although Fort High students have had the opportunity to participate in Manitoba’s “We Day” the past two years, for most it was their first “We Day” experience.
“[The arena] was jam-packed,” Berry recalled. “Everyone was full of excitement.
“I’ve never been to something like that before.”
Fichuk said the message of “We Day” is to create change.
“What they want students to concentrate on is choosing one cause and giving your best to that,” she explained, adding you don’t have to do it all.
“Find what you are interested in and focus on that,” agreed Berry, adding they learned about simple ways they can get involved.
“And there was a strong emphasis on that you are never too young to make a change,” she stressed.
The teachers also feel it was a positive experience for the students.
“‘We Day’ has a really good message and gets kids going,” remarked Chris Hill, a teacher and representative of the Student Leadership Council, who now has attended three “We Days.”
“And this one even moreso because there were some bigger speakers, bigger acts, that really sucked the kids in a bit more about what they were talking about,” he added.
“Everyone leaves pretty inspired about making changes in the world.”
Hill said the students are motivated to take action—and they do so with minimal guidance from teachers.
“It allow students to take the lead themselves and that’s one of the best things about ‘We Day,’” he stressed.
There are several ways Fort High students will get involved.
For instance, they are planning to hold several “Free the Children” campaigns this year, including “We Are Love” (fundraising for Adopt-a-Village communities), “We are Silent” (a vow to go silent for those whose voices are not heard), and the upcoming “We Scare Hunger” (to collect canned goods and non-perishable food items for local food banks).
“We’re going to be doing different events throughout the year to bring about local and global change,” said Fichuk, noting they already are planning the “We Scare Hunger” campaign.
“High school volunteers will be going door-to-door on Hallowe’en night collecting food items for the food bank instead of candy,” she explained.
“And we’re hoping to make it really successful this year, so it would be great to have the support of the community.”
Residents are asked to have their non-perishable food items at the door for volunteers to pick up.
“If they are not going to be home that night, they can drop off their donations at the high school,” said Fichuk, adding they’re expecting to have more student volunteers this year and are planning to stop at as many houses as possible.
“A lot of students want to get involved this year and if they each bring one or two friends, our group will grow,” she reasoned.
Fichuk said they also are accepting help from the public.
If anyone wants to help collect items Oct. 31, they are asked to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Berry, meanwhile, said attending “We Day” has really made a difference at the high school.
“We just want people to get involved,” she remarked. “It’s so much fun, you get to meet new people, and have some great experiences.
“It’s all about changing people’s attitudes—it’s cool to care,” she added.