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Speaker encourages Clark students to advocate for change

Page Schindler-Buchanan. The student leaders for Clark and Huddleston gathered at the junior high to hear about how they could make the world a better place.

The leadership event was coordinated by social studies teacher and Student Council sponsor Khara Barnard. It joined the Clark Student Council and National Junior Honor Society, as well as Huddleston students identified as leaders.

“Princeton has been very blessed in our efforts to continue providing opportunities for our students to gain understanding,” Ms. Barnard said. “It is our sincere hope that our students use their knowledge to empower themselves to make not only local, but global change happen.”

The students heard from a representative with the Malala Fund, who used their story to motivate and educate the students.

“We did this because you have the minds, hearts and souls to make the world better,” Ms. Barnard told the students as she introduced the speaker. “This is to get you moving so you can make a difference. It’s a pep talk because you are worthy and able.”

Page Schindler-Buchanan, who joined the students on Monday all the way from Washington D.C., is the Gulmakai network manager who oversees the day-to-day management of Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network and works closely with the program’s education activists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Lebanon and Turkey. For more information go to www.malala.org.

As a representative of the Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network, Ms. Schindler-Buchanan visited with the students about Malala’s story to kick off a conversation about how everyone has the ability to make a change in the world.

Students listen to speaker. Malala was a 10-year-old girl growing up and attending school in Pakistan when the Taliban took over and banned television, music and education for girls. However, since her father was a teacher, Malala continued to learn secretly, but couldn’t carry books in public. By the age of 11, she felt strongly enough about education for girls that she began blogging for the BBC under a fake name, Gul Makai.

But that didn’t make enough of a difference for Malala, so she dropped the fake name and developed a larger following. When the Taliban decided her influence and popularity were gaining momentum, they climbed aboard her bus one day. They asked, “Who is Malala?” Showing remarkable courage, Malala identified herself, and they shot her in the head.

Miraculously, she survived and knew her cause of advocating for education was worth fighting. She then became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“So what does this story mean to you?” Ms. Schindler-Buchanan asked the students at Clark. “Y’all aren’t in Pakistan. Y’all are in Texas. Hopefully, you can learn from the ways we work at the Malala Fund. We are people finding ways to change the system.”

After hearing Malala’s story, the students were eager to hear more. They said they were impressed with Malala’s perseverance to continue to advocate for change, as well as the courage she showed.

Students break up into small groups during leadership event. “I’m impressed by the fact that she was not afraid to say she was Malala on the bus,” said Clark 8th-grader Anna Bewley. “She showed more courage than most adults.”

Ms. Barnard and her fellow teachers are convinced their students benefit from the renowned speakers they have had the opportunity to hear over the last few years.

“Princeton is full of world changers, and it's time that our Panthers recognize that about themselves,” Ms. Barnard said. “Their vision of hope is tangible.”

Clark students.