Sewickley Academy Students Take a STAND

Monday, March 11, 2019 | 2:10 PM

Juniors Mishon Levine and Luke Tyson co-founded Students Taking Action for a New Democracy (STAND), a new organization that is taking a STAND by empowering high school students to be engaged global citizens.

Mishon and Luke, like many of their peers, are immersed in a political culture that has polarized today’s society. At a young age, they had questions and sought knowledge about opportunities to help them become informed individuals. Luke’s first experience with political activism came in middle school, when he had the opportunity to serve as a page in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Observing the ins-and-outs of the political system reinforced his dedication to continue to carve out his own space and fight for issues of interest. For Mishon, she was looking for a platform to learn, discuss, and truly understand socio-political issues. Having grown up in a rather diverse family and environment, she was constantly involved in civic conversation, but never found any guidance. Natural curiosity led her to individual research and thought building.

“After becoming deeply involved with the debate and mock trial clubs and student government, I decided to start STAND to help provide fellow students with the resources I wish were more prevalent to learn from,” Mishon stated.

Mishon teamed up with Luke and they recruited additional students in Pittsburgh and Chicago to form a leadership team – senior Bobo Liang, media; Alex Hevko, outreach, a junior at Mundelein High School in Chicago; and sophomore Ella Zhou, operations.

“We connected with student leaders from both Sewickley Academy and outside programs who took interest in STAND,” Luke said. The club chapter at Sewickley Academy has eight members, and they are collaborating with multiple schools in the Pittsburgh area, in addition to students from Texas, Chicago, China, and more.

STAND’s work is primarily directed to high school students.

“As students ourselves, we’ve realized that the issue of nonparticipation regarding political and social issues begins in high school, when kids are discouraged from speaking out or embracing conflict. Thus, STAND aims to support the high school environment,” Mishon and Luke shared.

STAND’s mission is to put together campaigns encouraging high school students nationwide to get off their couches, spur civic engagement from their own circles to their state capitals.

“The driving factor behind STAND’s work has been communication – communication with Sewickley Academy members, communication with fellow students, and communication with other schools,” the co-founders said.“We’re currently partnering with The Ellis School, Shady Side Academy, and other local schools for our current project, Revelations.”

The art competition is open to all high school students, and while the club is working diligently to spread awareness about Revelations, and hoping for at least 20 submissions, they understand it is their first year. In order to make themselves more prevalent and spark further interest in the competition, the club is collaborating with two other SA clubs – Ephemera and Art & Photography – and multiple teachers have decided to work Revelation into their class curriculums.

Additionally, the competition has circulated around Ellis, Shady Side, and North Allegheny, as well as schools in other states.“In general, we’re thankful for the amazing faculty support we’ve received. [Senior School Dean of Student Experience] Mrs. Peluso helps us a lot, whether it be with scheduling meetings, suggesting ideas, setting us up with contacts, or just running meetings. A lot of moving parts for campaign projects are already underway, so we encourage everyone to stay tuned,” Mishon and Luke said.

Click to learn more about Revelations and STAND.

This story was originally published on Sewickley Academy’s website.