More than three hundred Van Nuys High school students had a rare opportunity on Thursday, June 8th, when they exchanged questions and answers with Stanley Sheinbaum and Mike Farrell, two internationally celebrated statesmen in the social justice community.
Both men are recognized for their humanitarian efforts: Sheinbaum for protection of constitutional rights, education, public justice, human rights, and international peace efforts; Farrell for his opposition to the death penalty and children's rights. Farrell is also known for his portrayal of B.J. Hunnicutt on the long-running series M*A*S*H.
The event, entitled “14th Amendment Equal Protection Under the Law" is the first of a series of discussions produced by California Safe Schools. The Van Nuys students were from American Government classes.
"It was inspiring to see the students so well versed in national, international and environmental issues. We look forward to replicating these programs for other students throughout the State and Country", said Robina Suwol, Executive Director of California Safe Schools.
Both men were also honored at the event with the California Safe Schools Humanitarian Award for their decades of service. Office of Congressman Howard Berman and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine joined in the celebration by presenting additional awards to each. David Allgood, Director of the California League of Conservation Voters, moderated the event.
"I was proud and thrilled to participate in this event. Engaging our youth in the problems of today, and finding solutions is critically important. This event was a great way to make this happen," said Robert J. Blumenfield, District Director of the Office of Congressman Howard Berman.
California Safe Schools calisafe.org is a children's environmental health organization founded in 1998. CSS created the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation for schools at Los Angeles Unified, the nation's 2nd largest school district. Today the policy has become a national model. CSS also sponsored Assembly Bill 405 (Cindy Montanez), which was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. AB 405 protects more than 6 million students, hundreds of thousands of California teachers and school employees from experimental pesticides whose health effects are unknown.
"Thanks to California Safe Schools, this was an event students will never forget,” said Mahjabin Tuheen of Van Nuys High. I enjoyed it thoroughly and hope that we will have more forums like this in the near future"
Lighting for the event was designed by Brandon Stirling Baker, graphics by Michael Bruza, Sound by Jack Humphreys, and photography by Cathy Blaivas.