By Lindsay Yandon
NEWYORKCITY-Among the bright lights of New York City, students from Newcomb Central School (NCS) were honored by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) at their annual Representative Assembly last weekend for their work with anti-slavery, one of NYSUT's three main social justice initiatives).
Martha Swan, teacher at NCS and her students were heralded for their work to educate themselves and others about child and slave labor in the chocolate industry and to promote Fair Trade chocolate. Swan and her students have engaged in several proactive initiatives to raise awareness within their community about the slave labor in the popular chocolate industry.
Two other schools were also recognized for their efforts to end bullying in schools and violence against women and girls. Newcomb is the only small, rural school in the state that was be featured.
Freshmen Caitlyn Yandon and Rebecca Marra spoke briefly about activities that they and other Spanish classes have been involved in to help stop slavery in various markets all over the world.
"If all of us work together, we can really make the world a better place," said Marra. "Even though we live in a remote part of New York, we know that it is a part of the state that has historically been active in abolition and anti-slavery movements."
They mentioned their personal experiences in Reverse Trick-or-Treating and a Valentine's Day campaign, which both spread the word about child and slave labor involved in making the chocolates we love.
NCS students also sent letters and petitions urging the CEO of the Hershey's Company to certify that all Hershey's chocolates are free of child and slave labor among other activities.
Between two and three thousand members from across New York State were in attendance and heard the NCS students speak.
"The students were affirmed for caring about kids across the globe that they will probably never meet and for wanting to help end the slavery that robs them of their childhoods and their futures," said Swan. "It also underscores that what we do and learn in class can connect us to the wider world in relevant, meaningful and empowering ways."