Speak

Here are our lovely presenters:

In order for Speak to visit all fifth grade classes in our school district, four times a year, we need the help of many students at the high school level. 

We believe that having high school students create curricula, train to facilitate classroom presentations, and actually present is a huge part of what makes Speak so unique.

Students have some of the best insight into what information is needed and the best way to deliver that information. Because of this Speak is a wonderful learning experience not only for the students receiving the lessons, but also for the high schoolers involved in the program. 

Here is some information on our team of presenters. 

 

 
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Melia Oliver, Founding Member

Hello! My name is Melia Oliver, my pronouns are she/her, and I am a junior. As a founding member of Speak, this group and its cause could not be closer to my heart. Being surrounded with learners, thinkers, and activists pushes me to grow and be the best that I can be. The group has existed for over a year now, and every time we meet I leave feeling inspired and in awe of those who I work with. Our classroom presentations are what I think makes the group truly special. Taking real action and working with younger peers is incredibly fulfilling and never fails to put a smile on my face. Speak has changed my life in so many ways, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this group, and more importantly, this movement.

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Michaela Klein Weinstein, Founding Member

Hello, my name is Michaela Weinstein, and I’m a junior who identifies as she/her. I co-founded Speak with the intention of creating a cultural shift in my school climate. After a traumatic, hateful incident at our school mirroring the hate of our country was created, I realized the dire need for social education in our communities. The culture of oppression and passivity in our schools needed to change, but this could only happen through passionate students. This is why I love Speak: our members are inspiring, compassionate, and driven to make a change in our world. I personally can feel brought down by the disconnect, anger, and suffering our world faces but Speak inspires me; through the students we teach, the conversations we have, and the need to make a change that unites us. With Speak, I am creating a community with respect, a community where differences are not only tolerated but celebrated, but most importantly a community where empathy is exercised and social action is taken. Speak brings me more joy than I can describe, and I am constantly grateful for the role it has played in my life.

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Anna Baker-Heans, Founding Member

My name is Anna Baker-Heans. My pronouns are she/her. I graduated a semester early in January 2018, and will be attending Parsons School of Design in the fall. There I hope to study the intersection of art and social justice. I helped found speak because of a very apparent need for knowledge and empathy within our school and community. My favorite part of Speak is making a real connection with younger students in presentations, or watching them make connections for themselves either with a classmate or with the material. I love Speak because of its ability to help students come together to make real tangible change. 

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Odette Bradbury, Founding Member 

My name is Odette and my pronouns are she/her. I love Speak. To be able to say I’m one of the founders this group makes me so proud. We made something wonderful with only ourselves and we are only continuing to grow and evolve. The people I’ve met through this group have shifted the way I look at issues and made me a kinder, more thoughtful person. To my lovely members - I’m so humbled by the work we’ve done and the space we’ve created for ourselves and the people around us. I can’t wait to share all we have to offer with the world. I’m eternally grateful to you all.

 

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Tobias Echeverria, Founding Member

My name is Toby Echeverria and my pronouns are he/him. I love being a part of Speak because of how much I learn in every single meeting, presentation, and planning session. Speak always ends up expanding my perspective on everything around me in the way I see social and political issues. Using deconstructive lenses, we work together to explore problems and conflicts in our society by connecting with one another on our struggles and creating space for voices that don’t often receive the attention that they should. Speak makes navigating these deep conflicts both interesting and profound by utilizing the power of listening to guide and create change. Speak gives me hope.

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Navin Attanayake, Founding Member

My name is Navin and my pronouns are he/him. 

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Saiya Dianderas

My name is Saiya Dianderas. I am a part of the graduating class of 2020. I joined speak after seeing the events that were happening at my school and in society overall and deciding that I wanted to become involved in something that would allow me to make an impact in my society and school district. My favorite aspect of speak is being able to go to fifth grade classes and be able to talk to the young students to see what they already know and educate them on topics such as privilege and racism. My personal mission is to educate to eliminate the racial profiling that is happening far to often.

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Celeste Elsbury

My name is Celeste Elsbury, my pronouns are she/her, and I am in the graduating class of 2020. I joined Speak after hearing about it on the announcements because it sounded like Speak was a group that had the potential to make real change. Albany High has a surplus of student organizations affiliated with social justice in some way, but few are dedicated enough to delve into the kind of work that Speak does -- directly influencing future Albany High students. The members of Speak are incredibly reflective about the work we do and I believe this awareness is what makes Speak presentations effective. My personal mission in social justice is to challenge myself to constantly learn more and consider different perspectives because I feel that a lack of listening and thus understanding is splitting America into two polar opposite directions, and that is deeply dangerous as well as alarming. At the heart of Speak’s mission is the goal to increase empathy and I feel this empathy may be the antidote to America’s problems, in one way or another.

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Julian Johnson

My name is Julian Johnson and my pronouns are he/him. I will be graduating in 2021 and one fun fact about me is I am a trumpet player, guitarist, singer and rapper. I joined Speak because I have always been interested in social justice so when my friend told me about this student-run group that specialized in teaching younger kids about social justice, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. My favorite part of Speak is knowing that I can say anything about my life and what I am going through in front of fellow Speak members and feel safe and like I am heard. I also love that I learn a lot from other Speak members’ experiences. My goal of working in social justice is to act on social justice issues and try to make a change with my ideas.

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Ava Azevedo

My name is Ava Azevedo, my prefered pronouns are she/her, and I’m part of the graduating class of 2020. I joined Speak because one of my friends, a founder, told me a little about the group. As soon as I learned about it’s meaning and goal, I was immediately on board. My favorite part about Speak is how much I learn about myself and the world around me through presentations, discussions with other members, and any ups and downs throughout our mission. My biggest goals in what we’re doing are to create an understanding and safer atmosphere for young people within themselves and their peers, and to inspire them to be thoughtful and make change in their own lives.

 

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Jake Mehari

My name is Jake Mehari and I am a 2018 Albany High School graduate. I joined speak because I was interested in being a part of real change in my community. My favorite part of speak is that we are actually able to present to elementary school students about subjects and topic matter that is not usually addressed in school. Topics such as intersectionality and implicit bias are often never actually taught by our education system but are still important for young people to learn. Speak gives these young kids an opportunity to learn.

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Sam Blatner

Hi I am Sam I'm a 9th grader, class of 2021. I joined speak to help educate kids on certain issues that I did not get a full education on when I was younger. I love how everyone in Speak is so nice and fun to talk to. I really just want a less ignorant future. I don't know what I want to do after college but I do want to change the world.

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Nikki Citragno

My name is Nikki Citragno, and I am in the graduating class of 2020. I joined speak because through this group we are able to teach youth about such prevalent topics that normal school curriculum doesn’t address. My favorite aspect of speak is the amazing discussions we have with such a thoughtful and diverse group. Through speak my mission is to educate our youth in hopes of creating a more educated and thoughtful society.

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Amy Tan

My name is Amy and my pronouns are she/her. I’ll be graduating in 2020. My favorite aspect of the program is being able to teach kids issues that I’m incredibly passionate about. This is also the reason why I joined, being able to teach the younger generation on lessons I believe are so important is amazing.

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Kolo Irvine

Ayy i'm Kolo, a 17 year old tryna make a positive difference in this cold world through my love of music, people, and speak .

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Sonja Stott

My name is Sonja Stott, she/her, and I am in the graduation class of 2018. I joined speak because I thought it was a great way to impact my community and use the skills I had learned in Youth and Government. My favorite aspect of speak is the passion of the speak community and the impact we make through Albany and beyond. Frankly I do not have a personal mission right now, but next fall I am attending Cabrillo College majoring in business and international relations and hope to join their student council so I can continue having a role in leadership and helping my community. 

Interested In What We Do?

Speak as a program believes in the power of mutual learning. If you are interested in what we do and would like to hear more about us, or if you want to share any work or ideas please contact us!

 


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