Next month, two Howland High School students will travel south to participate in Sojourn to the Past, a history immersion journey.
Howland sophomores Brandon Summerlin and Jenna Gebhardt were selected to join Penny Wells the director of Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past and high school students from Youngstown to travel on this life-changing trip.
“This is such an important and exciting opportunity for these two fine students. We appreciate their integrity and interest to travel south to participate in Sojourn to the Past, and anticipate valuable insight from this life-changing experience upon their return. They will be instrumental in bringing to light to their peers and our schools the importance of justice, equality and nonviolence practices. It is their innate leadership skills, compassion, understanding and interest in equity that make Jenna and Brandon the ideal candidates for this important journey,” said Howland Superintendent Kevin Spicher.
Wells founded Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past in 2007, a year after meeting Jeff Steinberg the creator of Sojourn to the Past. Since 2017, Wells has been organizing week-long trips for local students to learn the lessons of the Civil Rights movement including justice, compassion, tolerance, hope, forgiveness, civic responsibility, nonviolence and not being a silent witness. Students also meet leaders of the movement such as Congressman John Lewis and Minnijean Brown Trickey of the Little Rock Nine, who visited Howland Schools this fall and spoke to students during Nonviolence Week.
“Students will learn leadership skills. They learn they have the power to make a difference right now, just as the children did in Birmingham and in Little Rock. They return home empowered. They learn to speak out when they see a wrong, to not be a silent witness. This is more than a week experience. Sojourn students speak to civil, religious and educational groups. They have led rallies and spoken out when they have seen a wrong,” said Wells. “Students return home with an action plan to implement in their schools and community. In the past, Youngstown students created Nonviolence Week, which includes a parade and rally. Last year, a large group of Howland Middle School students participated in the Nonviolence Parade.”