By Polly Keary, Editor
Under One Roof. It’s a message with a broad meaning at Monroe High School.
There, the ASB is using the slogan to encompass a new effort to promote unity at the high school, while also raising money to build schools for kids in Central America.
That’s because students and staff at home can all be said to be literally under one roof, said ASB leaders. But students worldwide also fall under a metaphorical roof, too. And looking out for the people sharing your roof is the right thing to do.
The message was the idea of Martin Creed, 18, this year’s ASB president.
He’d been to a leadership conference at which the keynote speaker had focused on both pursuit of dreams, and the damaging effects of bullying.
But it occurred to Creed that some kids have higher barriers to achieving their dreams than do others.
“My three previous years at the school have made me realize the challenges other students have had to face,” he said.
So he and other members of the ASB decided to try to encourage students to reach out to each other.
Each year the ASB establishes a theme for the school year, and this year they adopted the theme “Under One Roof,” in hopes of tackling one problem in particular; that of divisions between students, and between staff and students.
“There have been some problems between classes and different grades, and I think it’s a constant reminder that we are all united, that we are here as Bearcats,” said Karen Vasatka, 17, Diversity Director and Volunteer Coordinator with the ASB. “We are all under one roof.”
Freshmen in particular can experience harassment at the high school, said Creed.
So he’s been going to sit with the freshmen at football games so that upperclassmen don’t throw stuff at them as much or razz them with the “past your bedtime” cheer that is something of a tradition.
And in keeping with the theme, ASB members have been making an effort to include new people in their social circles.
It seems to be working, said Vasatka.
“At lunch in past years, you’d see kids in the hallways eating by themselves,” she said. “When I look at the cafeteria I don’t see nearly as many. And people have told me they have gone and adopted people into their groups.”
The biggest success of the message so far was the new Bearcat Fair, held at Homecoming. At the fair, each student club was invited to have a booth with a fun activity to spread awareness of who they are and what they do.
Response was strong, with clubs turning out in force to hold contests like stuffed pig races and “Pin the Tail on the Bearcat,” as well as activities such as face painting and a photo booth, or performance, such as drumming by a member of a multicultural club.
And that evening, during a school lip sync contest, a lone freshman performed the cringe-worthy but skillful dance from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
That alone was something no freshman would have been likely to attempt before the Under One Roof theme was established, said Activities Advisor Jaime Johnson.
But then four seniors spontaneously jumped onto the stage and joined him.
“I don’t think that ever would have happened before,” said Johnson.
As the year goes on, the ASB students hope to continue to break down walls between social groups, as well as between staff and students.
And they are tying the effort to another project; that of raising money to support education in third world countries.
The ASB is working to help an organization called Free the Children build schools abroad. This year, the organization is holding a year-long campaign called “We Create Change,” and is collecting coins to support their “Year of Education.” The goal is to build 200 schools in developing countries around the world.
The Under One Roof message serves as a reminder to the student body that there is also an effort to help kids in other parts of the world, said Creed.
At the heart of the Under One Roof theme is a simple principle of being kind to one another, and Creed said he thinks it is a welcome change at the school.
“It’s infectious,” he said. “It will spread. One person will stand up for someone who may need help with school or who has a problem, and it will spread, and it will slowly change the culture of the school.”