A contingent of Huntington High School Interact Club members along with faculty and staff and Principal Brenden Cusack trekked into Brooklyn for WE Day UN 2018 at Barclays Center.
The Huntington students and staff members were among a crowd of 19,000 that packed the arena. The group included Jenna Yabroudy, Bella DiBenedetto, Haley Mortell, Christiana DeLuca, Kerrie Joyce, Noah Morris, Natalie McCann, Mia Nitekman, Jackson Pitti, Phoebe Walther, Eliza Walther, Binky Belanger, Sylvia Belanger, social studies teacher and Interact Club faculty advisor Camille Tedeschi and Mr. Cusack.
Huntington teacher Camille Tedeschi is Interact's faculty advisor
“WE Day is an inspiring celebration that brings together people to create an impact and show what it means to make a difference,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “The Interact Club has earned their way to this event through devout service to helping people locally and globally.”
Huntington Interact Club Vice President Noah Morris was highlighted before the big crowd for the work he has been doing to preserve and protect the environment. The teenager was called to the stage during the Honorable WE Movement segment.
“WE is a movement that exists for one reason: to make the world a better place,” according to the organization. “We are shameless idealists who believe that there is a version of our highest selves that comes from living a life of daily legacies. Our lives take on a deeper, transformative meaning when we impact the lives of others. I am WE.”
Huntington High School is an officially registered WE School. The designation came about after a group of students traveled to Tanzania on a summer service learning trip a few years ago. “It was through their service that they helped local people and their community,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “It allowed the students to help change people’s lives while having their own lives impacted in a meaningful way. When people come together we can create an even better world.”
Ms. Tedeschi was celebrated as WE Day’s honored educator at the 2016 event. Huntington’s Interact Club was highlighted at WE Day 2017 for its commitment to changing the world through various local and global projects, including raising money for water projects in Tanzania, collecting school supplies for students in Haiti, collecting food for local pantries, collecting supplies for local homeless veterans and making cards that were sent to them and selling rafikis (bracelets) to donate to fund memorial scholarships for graduating seniors.
“Living ME to WE means working together to create sustainable change, and making a difference with everything you do; from choosing travel that leaves a positive footprint on the planet, to making purchases that give back,” according to the organization.
A star-studded lineup of speakers and performers was on hand at Barclays Center. Among the group were NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, human rights advocate Martin Luther King III, former president of Colombia and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, Juan Manuel Santos, singer and actress Sofia Carson, hip hop superstar Nas, radio icon and TV personality Angie Martinez, actresses Jenna Ortega and Skai Jackson, vocal powerhouse Jordan Smith, media mogul Ebro Darden, actor Jacob Tremblay, actress and musician Luna Blaise, New York Times No. 1 best-selling author RJ Palacio, David Robinson, the son of baseball Hall of Fame player Jackie Robinson, Princess Beatrice, actor, singer and songwriter Darren Criss and many others.
“WE Day is an event that stimulates your mind, body and soul,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “It helps to remind you why you should choose kindness and care for others. It also inspires you to want to continue to help others and ignites you to make a difference. It is full of excitement and significant people. I love WE Day and look forward to it each year. I love to see all of the amazing things kids are doing all over the state. Good starts young so being in a stadium full of kids changing the world makes me confident that this world is going to be a better place.”
The group from Huntington really enjoyed the experience at Barclays Center. “There were so many inspirational speakers,” Ms. Tedeschi said. “Some of my favorites included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discussing race relations and equality, David Robinson focusing on the significance of pursuing your dreams and Nelson Mandela’s grandson talking about health care and the specific focus on AIDS awareness. They also had great performances and this year they had one of my favorite rappers from my high school years, Nas, which made all of the teachers in the stands go crazy. Most of the students had no idea who he was.”
Huntington’s Interact Club is one again poised for a difference-making year. “Our members are outstanding and I value the work they do and drive they have to help others. I feel so honored to be their advisor.”
On the trip back to Huntington, everyone was drained, but excited about all they plan to do to make the community and world a better place.