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The Aftermath of Charlottesville: How Teens Are Creating Unity

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On a bright Tuesday afternoon, over a hundred students are crammed into a classroom, surrounded by the sheer warmth of chattering and Latin music. For the forty-five minutes that they converse, there are no boundaries or prejudices between them.

These students belong to Peachtree Ridge’s Hispanic Organization Promoting Education, or HoPe. Though HoPe was created to help Hispanic students, the organization has a mission to foster unity, especially when the world needs it most.

In the prior weeks, the nation saw bigotry and racism arise in Charlottesville, Virginia as white supremacists rallied in the streets, ultimately claiming three lives. In the wake of the turmoil, however, there’s an unlikely group taking a stand – teenagers.

Peachtree Ridge’s HoPe is one of many teen movements encouraging acceptance in their local community. Vice president Gabriela Maduro-Salvarrey says that students of all cultures are welcome, as the organization holds potlucks and meetings celebrating different heritages. In spite of the racial tensions stirring in the country, Maduro-Salvarrey and her fellow HoPe members work to inspire unity with the common goal of helping disadvantaged minorities by holding parent nights and helping students graduate. Though their actions seem small, their impact is significant, bringing together teens of different backgrounds.

All throughout Peachtree Ridge, hundreds of other students join them in taking a stand. Whether it’s creating awareness in the Young Progressives Club, volunteering throughout Beta Club, or promoting diversity in Spectrum, the students are finding ways to reach across social divides and create unity in their school.

Photo Credit: Giselle Chavez
Photo Caption: Giselle Chavez, one of Peachtree Ridge HoPe’s vice presidents, leads 120 students at the first HoPe meeting of the year.