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The Student News Site of Athens Academy

The Spartan Review

The Student News Site of Athens Academy

The Spartan Review

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No Place for Hate

Juniors+Renee+Cargill%2C+Yursa+Rahman%2C+and+Julia+Drake
Jessica Luzardo
Juniors Renee Cargill, Yursa Rahman, and Julia Drake

On Friday, January 19th, two Bridges Club leaders and I rode in a little bus to attend the “No Place for Hate” conference in metro Atlanta. 

 

No Place for Hate is an organization that strives to build inclusive, respectful, and equitable learning communities in schools. Every year this organization hosts a conference and invites students from all over Georgia and some of South Carolina. The conference is an opportunity for high school students to learn how to fight against bias and bring those strategies to their schools. 

 

When we first arrived at the conference, we were greeted with a nice ”hello” and plenty of free food. We grabbed our lanyards with our names on it and headed over to the buffet of breakfast food. I put a warm croissant and a piece of avocado toast on my plate, and I went over to the opening ceremony. 

 

During the opening ceremony, we heard from guest speaker, Michel Smith Boyd, an interior designer and host of HGTV’s shows, “Luxe for Less” and “Rock The Block 4”. Boyd discussed how he found his individuality despite facing adversity growing up.

 

In his speech, Boyd said, “I had to come from where I did to become the person I am today” 

 

Boyd’s words resonated with me and many other people in the room. It shows that the challenges we face shape us into better versions of ourselves. 

 

After the opening ceremony, we were divided into breakout groups. However, our breakout groups were filled with people we had never met. I was anxious to be separated from my friends and to be alone with strangers. 

 

I was assigned to the navy blue group. I walked up the stairs and followed the signs until I found them. I shyly walked in a small room with 8 strangers who were just as nervous as me (at least I think so). 

 

We sit in a circle and introduce ourselves. Then we played “Never Have I Ever” which eased my nerves. Then we did another fun activity that involved pipe cleaners. We picked four pipe cleaners and assigned each a trait that we believed was important to our identity. For example, my four were: student, creative, daughter, and intuitive. With these four cleaners, we crafted a “sculpture”. 

 

After building a beautiful sculpture we were then told to remove one trait, or pipe cleaner. It was difficult to untwist one of my pipe cleaners without completely ruining my masterpiece. After removing the one cleaner, my sculpture no longer looked the same and now it had a void. The activity taught me that hiding parts of yourself isn’t beneficial. 

 

After a delicious lunch of mac and cheese and fried chicken, we headed back to our breakout groups. Here, I got to know the other students in my group better. The other students shared about what their hobbies are and how their schools are like. We were even vulnerable with each other, detailing the times that we were once targets of bullying. 

 

We wrapped up the day with the closing ceremony. The day was fun but also taught me several lessons such as not being afraid to put myself out there. I was empowered to be bold and be the change that I wanted to see. 

 

Bridges Club hopes to attend next year’s conference and allow more students to experience it. 

 

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About the Contributor
Renee Cargill, Photo Editor
Renee Cargill is a Junior at Athens Academy and has been a student there since the 7th grade. She’s a Drama Club, Bridges, and ACAD Miracle member. She has been writing for the Spartan Review since 9th grade. She loves to learn about fashion, science, and technology. She loves expressing her creativity through mediums such as painting, sewing, or writing.

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