Etched in Stone

“Day to Be…” draws school community together

Student+in+Mr.+DeGear%27s+advisory+laugh+over+one+of+the+%22Day+to+Be...%22+activities.
Student in Mr. DeGear's advisory laugh over one of the

Student in Mr. DeGear's advisory laugh over one of the "Day to Be..." activities.

Liam H. Flake

Liam H. Flake

Student in Mr. DeGear's advisory laugh over one of the "Day to Be..." activities.

Isabella Mahal

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One of the day's activities was a "hot seat," in which a student sat in the center of circle formed by their peers. Then, they were asked questions about anything their fellow students wanted to know.

On Friday, November 2, Fossil Ridge High School held its annual “Day to Be…”, which replaced the “Diversity Day” of years past. A joint effort between the Diversity Leadership Awareness (DLA) class, Ridge TV, and several hundred student leaders from the Fossil community, DLA student Matthew Paskey explained that he defined the purpose of the event as being to increase “intimacy, mutual valuing, and understanding” within his school. He hoped that students would be able to “communicate with their peers on a deeper level… and realize that their advisory is just like the whole school. If there’s a kid in their Advisory that they can open up to and connect with, they can do that with anyone in the halls.”

Paskey explained the shift away from “Diversity Day,” which stemmed from DLA students. This year, the Fossil yearbook features a “be” theme, and the class hoped to parallel that. In planning, they wrote lists on a whiteboard of what Sabercats should strive to be – connected, united, a community. Then, they realized that, “so many students have so many unique experiences, we can’t choose for them what experience to have. So we left it ‘Day to Be…’ with a blank after so we can let students choose what kind of day they want to have.”

Leaders for the event were drawn from many aspects of the Fossil student body. Members of honor societies were given hours for leading a class, while those from organizations like Key Club also participated. These leaders attended a training earlier in the week to learn how to facilitate a number of games, discussions, and a presentation.

Senior Nevada Fine was one of these student leaders. She explained that she was involved with leadership at Preston Middle School, which made her feel, “way more connected with everyone.” She started leading “Diversity Day” last year because she really “enjoyed that feeling of being active within the community.” Fine spoke to the fact that attending a school with over two thousand students can make individuals feel isolated, and that she believes the purpose of school-wide events like this one prevents people from feeling alone.

“Day to Be…” was structured in four individual sections: “Day to Be Brave,” “Day to Be Kind,” “Day to Be Seen,” and “Day to be You.” Each section was prefaced by a video, created by Ridge TV, that gave context to the adjective. For example, in the “Day to Be Seen” video, two students who had never met were asked questions about how they saw themselves within the Sabercat community. Then, they spent a day in the life of one another, one learning about art and the other about volleyball. Through this experience, each of them recognized that the preconceived ideas that they may have held about the other based only on their activities weren’t necessarily true. This exercise in breaking down stereotypes was captured on film, and helped open each class up to the activity that followed.

Each of the activities, meanwhile, personalized the “Day to Be…” experience. During the “Day to Be Brave” section, all the students in the classroom sat in a circle and were given several Starbursts. Each closed their eyes, and the student leader read statements such as “Do you feel like a teacher at Fossil has deeply impacted you?” aloud. Anonymously, students tossed a candy into the middle of the circle if they answered yes to the statement, and then opened their eyes. In this way, everyone could learn more about their peers’ varying high school experiences.

“Day to Be…” was held during Advisory in order to reach the greatest number of students without impeding learning in other classes. However, the purpose of the event went far beyond a single class period. Over the week of November 5-9, there will be spirit days intended to extend positivity in the school community moving forward. Monday will be “Mindfulness Monday,” during which students are asked to dress in comfy clothes; Tuesday will be “Awareness Day,” when students can show their support for a cause through their clothing; Wednesday will be “Dress for Success,” when students should dress up to “express their best self;” Thursday will be “Peace, Love, and Kindness,” where Sabercats should wear tie-dye or other positive messages; and Friday will be a “Spirit Day,” during which Ridge gear should flood the halls.

About the Writer
Isabella Mahal, Head Copywriter

Despite all the warnings given to her, senior Isabella Mahal filled her schedule with AP classes and a single TA period. Many of these classes were only open to seniors and fascinate her, such as AP Literature and AP World History, so not having an off period doesn’t bother her. It isn’t just her school schedule that is full. Mahal fills her time with extracurricular activities like volunteering at the Humane Society, being the co-president of Fossil Ridge’s Spectrum, and being a member of the group Never Again NoCo that works to help end gun violence at schools.

If Mahal has some time to relax, she is spending it with her family and pets. Her younger brother, Sebastian, is a sophomore at Fossil, and they get McDonalds together in her free time. Her family dog, Gus, and her cat, Silverstein, help her wind down after a long day at school. Mahal loves hiking, biking, and hanging out in her hometown of Fort Collins. Although her music taste varies, she loves Counting Crows, The Front Bottoms, Duran Duran, and Modern Baseball.

Mahal never dreamt about spending all four years of high school in journalism, having joined the class to be with her best friend, Karen Manley. Due to their differing schedules, Mahal ended up alone in the class, which forced her to find her own place. She wrote academic and opinion pieces, adding movie and book reviews to her portfolio. After being the academic beat leader her sophomore and junior year, Mahal is now the head copy editor to round out her time in the class. Her dream school would be UC Berkeley, studying public or global health to one day possibly join the Peace Corps. Although Mahal isn’t pursuing journalism in the future, the class has become a window for her to find herself, and help others do the same. It’s taught her about the students in the school whose voices aren’t always heard.

Mahal’s advice for incoming Journalism I students is to not be afraid to walk into an event or sport and be unsure about it, and to meet and talk with new people. People in clubs or sports that are less recognized are always appreciative of the recognition of their hard work. Even if you’re unsure about what you’re going to, you will definitely leave knowing more than before, and it’ll make you a more caring person to understand how everyone’s different experiences shape who they are. She loves the forum that journalism lends for people to understand the world around them, and she is a self-proclaimed “first amendment enthusiast”.

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“Day to Be…” draws school community together