Palo Alto High School’s Not In Our Schools Week (NIOS), led by the Associated Students Body (ASB), concluded on April 25 after a full week of activities focused on making all students feel safe and welcome at Paly.
The activities began on April 17 with a Day of Silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) bullying. To conclude the day and to signify that their voice would be heard, students broke the silence at the end of the school day yelling very loudly on the quad.
The official NIOS week began on April 20 with an Erase “-isms” Day. The day was focused on exploring the statement “I am more than just a…” and students were encouraged to wear blue to raise awareness for this day.
There was also poetry read by students on the quad during lunch, including a one such performance by sophomore Aisha Chabane.
Tuesday was Ability Awareness Day in which students discussed their dependency on others and were asked to wear purple. There was a planned Ability Awareness Student Panel in the Media Arts Center, with Ada’s Cafe in the foyer to sell treats during the panel, though it was ultimately canceled due to unforeseen circumstances and panelist absences.
Junior class president William Zhou acknowledged the issue with the student forum, as well as one other event — the chalk walk — and recognized that ASB could improve NIOS week for next year.
“I think awareness and enthusiasm of the week and its activities were fairly low,” Zhou said. “We should have done more publicity the weeks prior.”
Sexual Assault Awareness was on Wednesday. The day focused on beginning the conversation about sexual assault. During brunch, buttons were handed out and Vikapella, one of Paly’s student a cappella groups, performed. The red buttons featured the fraction “¼” in order to spread awareness of the statistic that 25 percent of all women in America are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Students could put their own hand prints on a “These Hands Don’t Harm” poster and played “The Consent Game” during lunch on the quad. In the evening, there was a screening of “Girl Rising” in the Social Studies Resource Center.
On Thursday, students wore yellow for Service Day. In an effort to create change in their community, students volunteered for the sixth annual Paly Service Day, benefitting over 40 local organizations. Many students went on off-campus field trips to volunteer, though there were also opportunities during lunch to volunteer on-campus, with free pizza handed out to participants.
Zhou commended service day as being one of the most successful events of the week.
“I think the people who were a part of the activities not only had a great time, but also learned some new things,” Zhou said.
Friday was Health and Wellness Day. Students focused on unity and friendship during the final themed day of the school week. There was a meditation moment during brunch and yoga and tie dyed shirts during lunch on the quad. Students chose to wear green or rainbow. Zhou reflected back on the week and proposed new ideas for upcoming NIOS weeks.
“Moving forward for NIOS, I think ASB should work towards hosting events that are more appealing to the student body, but still convey the same messages,” Zhou said.
Though there were a few problems with select events, Zhou was happy with how the week turned out and hopes ASB can continue the momentum.