This past November, at Saint Ignatius High School (Cleveland, OH), our student justice group, Ignatians for Peace and Justice has taken part in the Red Chair (“La Silla Roja”) Project for the second time in three years. Students made signs, wrote articles, painted and displayed 11 red chairs around the school with facts about global education, created a scavenger hunt for individual students (with prize money for the cafeteria), and a homeroom quiz (with the winning homeroom getting fair trade hot cocoa delivered to their classroom one morning after being lovingly prepared by members of IPJ before school), and held an all-school mission collection.
Originally, we had learned about the Red Chair Project after our students had met representatives of the Fe y Alegría schools network at the Ignatian Family Teach-In a few years ago and then learned more about it when some students visited a Fe y Alegría school on a mission trip to Nicaragua and then two representatives from that school visited Saint Ignatius to talk with some of our students in IPJ.
Additionally, in our school dining hall, we have a huge map of all of the Jesuit High Schools throughout the world. On this map, IPJ reps cut out little Fe y Alegría heart logos and taped them up on the map on the countries where the Fe y Alegría schools network is located to raise awareness of the good work of these schools in providing educational opportunities to those in need.
Our students from IPJ also led our daily morning prayers and daily Examen prayers that week with education and justice themes, as well as chalked our mall, an outdoor commons running through the campus, with facts and figures about the lack of opportunity for education that children face throughout the world.
Lastly, our school also has a close relationship with students from schools in our surrounding neighborhood through our extensive Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership Program, many of whom face economic or social challenges to getting a good education, like the students of Fe y Alegría schools. Our IPJ members shared about the Red Chair Project with students in an afterschool program, and invited them to create some artwork that we posted near the large map in our dining hall to make the connections to global education issues more local and concrete to our community.