By Grace Richey,
Dressed in fluorescent green tie-dyed shirts paired with retro leggings and headbands, the Friendship Day Facilitators jump, dance and skip through the Redwood Building, spreading their enthusiasm to the participants.
“We want them to feel comfortable with one another,” senior Facilitator Dominique O’Brien said.
Friendship Day, a day-long event held once a month, was instituted to promote a greater sense of community and understanding between students of all social groups at DHS and Da Vinci. The program was developed after racial tension peaked in 1983 with the murder of Vietnamese immigrant Thong Hy Huynh on the DHS campus.
While the day starts off with lighthearted icebreaker games meant to encourage unfamiliar students to get to know each other, the mood quickly shifts to a serious note with the Cross the Line activity. Participants line up along the back wall of the building and step forward to “cross the line” each time the Facilitator describes a serious situation that they have experienced.
Participants also watch scenes from the movie “The Breakfast Club” and excerpts of investigative journalist John Stossel’s video on stereotypes, followed by small group discussions lead by Facilitators.
After taking in somber information, the discussion time encourages previously shy and overlooked students to open about about their thoughts of prejudice on campus.
“They can each share about their own experiences,” O’Brien said.
Consistent to the idea behind the creation of Friendship Day, many participants leave with a stronger feeling of welcoming and inclusiveness at school based on newfound friends.
“I liked the beginning where […] we got paired up with new people and then got to know them,” junior Sarah Sherwin said.
The next Friendship Day will be held on Friday, Oct. 10. Most students receive a personal invitation, although Adviser Kevin Williams has additional permission slips.
“We try to make it so everyone goes to at least one in their three years,” junior Facilitator Eric Smith said.