The 7th grade Power of One project moved online this year, and the result is a website teeming with inspirational stories of members of our local community exhibiting the enormous positive impact a single person can make in the lives of many. This annual project asks students to select and showcase the work of an “upstander,” someone in the local community who takes action to make positive social change in the face of injustice.
After selecting and interviewing an upstander, students created a webpage and a 3D artistic representation of their upstander’s work to share what they learned. During a typical year, these art pieces are displayed on campus to create a museum experience, but this year’s new online format allows students to reach a wider audience, spreading the inspiring work of their upstanders beyond the four walls of Braun Auditorium.
To learn just how potent the power of one can be, students interviewed community members including Jennifer Howell who founded The Art of Elysium, a charity that brings artists to sick children; Phil Peng, who works for Skid Row Running Club, a non-profit that uses the power of running to improve the lives of people at risk of homelessness and addiction; Julie Rikelman, a lawyer with the Center of Reproductive Rights who fights for women’s reproductive rights and access to healthcare; our very own Learning Service Coordinator Erica St. John who founded Singer Sanctuary to rescue abused and abandoned animals; and many more.
Emerson F. ’26 chose to spotlight Brian Biery, who features the work of upstanders in Pasadena through his book, blog, and TV show, all titled “The Power of One.” Emerson wrote of her project, “I have learned that the most important ingredient to being an Upstander is the desire to help and to serve – and that desire is something that is available to all of us and doesn’t cost anything. Not only that but it is contagious. Being around an Upstander like Mr. Biery made me want to help too! I think that the more people who stand up, the more they will inspire others to join them.”
This is the final project in the Holocaust unit for Ms. Bizar and Mr. Cross’s 7th grade Cultural Studies class. After learning about human behavior and how the inaction of bystanders allowed the devastating events of the Holocaust to occur, students end the unit with their sights firmly set on the inspiring actions of upstanders in their community who prove that the power of one is limitless.
“It so important to honor the people who don't stand by in the face of difficulty, the people who stand up and decide to do something positive,” said 7th grade Cultural Studies teacher Gigi Bizar. “Especially during the pandemic, it’s helpful for us to focus on the good that people are doing in the world. By looking at each of these upstanders, we can see the huge web of positive social change that they create around us. Just one person can make a huge difference.”
Click here to explore the Power of One website.