For these De La Salle students social justice means action

For these De La Salle students social justice means action
This year, De La Salle High School’s Religion Class inspired student George Timmerman and his classmates to collect books for underprivileged youth in the community.

CONCORD, CA (June 20, 2021) — This particular year has shown that not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it takes children to sustain a village.

Those at De La Salle High School in Concord have made sure to remember just that. With pillars of its Lasallian Catholic education and goodwill, the school’s educators inspire their teenage boys to spark change.

This year, Christopher Miller, a teacher in the Religious Studies Department, showed students how to exercise their faith in regard to Catholic social teaching, ethics and social justice. Students say the class curriculum has helped them address the large-scale issues seen this year, such as systemic racism and mental health.

As school became complicated, with some students choosing to learn in-person as opposed to online, Miller assigned a final service-oriented project with the intention of further lifting his students’ spirits. While a final project may not sound complementary to the development of a content and carefree student, Miller believed otherwise.

“This project provided an opportunity for students to learn more … and empowered them to recognize they do have the ability to make a difference in the world,” he says.

Acts of altruism

It seems the art of giving back remains an act of altruism that ceases to fail. With that belief, he commissioned his students to apply the teachings of the Catholic religion learned that year in their final projects.

He assigned some to create podcasts, while others had the task of designing posters of a Catholic “hero.” There were also groups that directly confronted the realities of the underserved communities around the school.

George Timmerman, a rising senior at De La Salle High School, was one of the students that brainstormed and led his group to light a flame of impact. An avid reader as a child, George catapulted his idea into reality by donating books to a local charity. These books would be an act of generosity, supporting youth of all ages and a thirst for continuous education.

Word soon spread like wildfire around the school and in the neighborhoods of Concord and Walnut Creek. During the final stage of their project in May, George and his classmates anticipated a total of 50 books. However, their hopes were raised when they counted 240 books.
This was an encouraging surprise, teaching the students that awareness and belief can make a good deed touch on a cause greater than any obstacle faced.

But the students did not reach success just by sheer will or experience. They had to communicate with charitable organizations and consistently advertise their projects. Because of COVID-19, online vs. in-person school schedules had to be mitigated. George’s group also had to collect books while limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

If anything, hardships only spurred people to share an urgent message about the spirit of goodwill.

Inspiring others

Miller’s final project has inspired others to brainstorm acts of service. But where to start?

“Look for causes you believe in,” George advises. “No matter how small it is, it is still a start.”

George has proven his own words true. Sometime this month, he plans to deliver the books to the Monument Crisis Center or to the De La Salle Academy for middle schoolers.

To the untrained eye, this is a story of how a final class project led to unexpected outcomes. However, to the De La Salle community, it is a testament to the fiery faith that they believe in, knowing that the deeds from Miller’s students reflect the foundations of the school’s mission.

Whether their services were a book drive or mailed letters, positivity met them halfway and encouraged their endeavors. These teenage boys are no longer the children their village has raised. They have grown to be young men paving the way to a better community.