Palmer Trinity Junior Autumn-Jade Stoner is fervent about her causes. She’s a member of the new ACLU club, founded by her friend, Rohan Myers, who is president of the club.
“My friend and I, including the officers of the club, have always been passionate about social justice issues,” she says. “We want to bring awareness as well as taking action and making sure we lead the way for our peers.”
She and the club leadership want to help students learn more about issues so they can make decisions on whether to support them or not.
“Our most successful and most recent thing was the National Walkout on March 14 which was in response to the gun violence that had been happening,” she says.
Prior to the march, they made posters that they displayed during the walk-out.
“It was a student led movement,” she says. “I worked closely with the officers. We organized the logistics. What was going to be done. We had stickers that we made and passed out. It ran smoothly.”
The ACLU Club also sponsored a booth at the International Festival. They sold ACLU merchandise such as posters, brochures, pins and stickers and registered people to vote.
“A lot of our classmates didn’t know you can register at 16,” she says. “So, we got a lot of kids pre-registered. We got 50 registered that day alone.”
Following the National Walkout, club members will be conducting social justice campaigns.
“Social media is our best platform to get people to pay attention,” she says.
Stoner has started her own club, one that she hopes will raise awareness of mental health issues.
Called Happiness Action Love Oneness (HALO), she intended it to be a spiritually mental wellness club.
“We’d meditate and talk about stress release,” she says. “I started this club with that in mind. I also did stress coloring a couple of weeks before exams. We had a meeting where I printed out adults coloring pages.”
But that format didn’t draw enough students and it didn’t focus attention on her main priority – mental health awareness. So, she’s been meeting with the student activities director to revamp the club.
“I want to see if there are things I can do that will make a difference,” she says.
It’s important to her since she’s been affected by these issues and sees the need for greater education on the topic.
Stoner’s a member of the Big Buddy Little Buddy Mentoring program at Goulds Elementary. She usually goes once or twice a month, depending on her schedule.
“I try to go to as many Saturdays as I can because we form bonds with our little buddies,” she says. “They look for you on those Saturdays.”
Stoner is in her first year as a cheerleader. She cheered at football and basketball games. At this time of year, she’s a track and field athlete who usually goes to the state championships as a pole vaulter.
In ninth grade, she took eighth place. Last year she was fifth. Unfortunately, an injury is keeping her from competing this year but she hopes to compete next year.
She still has time to decide on a college major but thinks she’ll probably explore a STEM major. However, she doesn’t want to limit what type of classes she can take – she has a variety of interests so she wants to attend a college that allows for flexibility in scheduling.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld