LHS students challenge: Join the 'We Are Here' movement

LHS students challenge: Join the 'We Are Here' movement

LINCOLN - In light of the world's seemingly insurmountable challenges, from war to disease, hunger to cyber bullying, a group of students at Lincoln High School have publicly challenged their school's faculty, staff and peers to join in a campaign that they hope will ignite renewed pride and understanding in communities across the state and beyond.

On Oct. 14, students in the high school's Journalism & Broadcasting Academy premiered a music video, inspired by singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and her "We Are Here" movement, and called to action all members of their community, while challenging students in other schools to do the same.

Seniors Erin Gannon, Maggie Gillen and Elizabeth Young produced and directed a four-minute video that embraces the tenets of Keys' movement.

Last month, Keys appeared on the national talk show circuit explaining the importance of reflecting on our purpose here on Earth.

According to the website weareheremovement.com , "We Are Here" is designed to "raise awareness of issues around the world that cannot be solved in isolation. We are joining together to give birth to a movement based on the idea of social ecology - that we're all related and need to work in harmony to create a kinder and better world for all."

Keys has invited the public to make their own declarations by completing the statement "I Am Here."

People are asked to upload photos of themselves displaying their statements on social media, using the hashtag #WeAreHere.

The student video featured a cover of Keys' song performed by sophomore Lexi Revis.

Revis, who lost her mother to brain cancer last spring, is the first of many in the video to make a declaration.

"I am here to make my mom proud," she wrote. "Rest easy, Mom."

LHS music teacher Brandon Lahoud accompanied Revis' performance on piano.

The video can be viewed at http://youtu.be/sRPFiXeqQmQ .

The genesis of Lincoln High School's campaign started in the school's English department.

Erin Gannon, co-editor in chief of The Lion's Roar was at her first journalism meeting of the year when the seed was planted.

"We were talking about what kinds of issues our staff could address this year, and we inevitably began to talk about senseless bullying that occurs online. Our adviser, Mrs. (Doreen) Picozzi, said she had been thinking about our anti-bullying campaign and had an epiphany the night before," said Gannon. "She asked, 'Why can't we increase the volume a bit by engaging the support of a community-minded celebrity?' We thought about it and felt it was plausible. Then we began to see the possibilities of actually making a difference by thinking big."

The journalism staff was immediately receptive, and just like that, ideas began to grow.

Picozzi, an English and journalism teacher at LHS, tries to incorporate community service into her classes, as do many teachers in the school, she said. She met with English department colleagues Alicia Kroszner, who is currently on maternity leave, and Lisa Cardarelli, known for her commitment to the school's remarkably successful food pantry, to ask if they wanted to join in the effort.

"We are friends, and we truly enjoy working together," Picozzi said. "So when Mrs. Cardarelli, Mrs. Kroszner and I met just an hour or two after my journalism club meeting, we began to get very excited about the possibilities of coordinating our efforts. We began to make a lot of noise, right there in the middle of a restaurant. And I thought, this is what it is all about - making noise to inspire thought. I guess that's why we are here, to make a lot of noise."

"The 'We Are Here' campaign empowers Lincoln High School students to realize that they can be the change they want to see at LHS and in their world," Cardarelli said. "Students realize that they have a purpose and they are part of a community."

"I think the campaign demands a level of introspection that assists students' understanding of their roles as positive and participating citizens," Kroszner said.

The teachers engaged the enthusiastic support of their principal, Kevin McNamara, and Supt. Georgia Fortunato.

"We've had so much support and encouragement from all corners," said Gannon. "It's really inspiring to all of us who have worked on this video. It's been a truly unifying experience."