Westridge’s Efforts to Unite our Communities during Quarantine

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Tessa J. ’24

Staying involved in your community can be challenging in the midst of the stay at home orders. However, Westridge students and faculty are proving that they can enact change, even from their own homes. 

Across the country, small businesses, artists, costume designers, and big clothing brands are joining forces to make masks for health care workers and communities. Lucy J. ‘22 and Tessa J. ‘24 have joined that effort, making masks for the North Central Animal Shelter

“I think right now it is necessary to try and help out as much as you can,” explained Tessa. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have what is needed at this time.”

Lucy is also selling the masks to raise money for Alexandria House, a transitional residence providing safe and supportive housing to women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelter to permanent residence as a part of her CAP project. 

Photos by Tessa J. Photo of Lucy J. ‘21 and Tessa J. ‘24 masks.  Photo of masks in the process of being made.

Jay K. ‘20, along with the assistance of David Prince, Upper School Art Teacher, has been hard at work making face masks using the 3D printers at both their homes and Westridge. Jay based the masks off of the Budmen Industries face shields that were approved by government agencies and is working to find places to send the masks. Prince has also sent some of the masks he made to CrashSpace, an organization that sends equipment to medical facilities in need.

“Thinking about how I might be of help, I thought joining this effort and making use of my 3D printer at home would be a good way to stay engaged in communal service even during this unprecedented time,” commented Jay. 

Stella B. ‘21 has volunteered at Washington Elementary since the beginning of the year, working with a girls math club for fourth and fifth grade students.When the end-of-the-year competition was canceled, Stella wanted to find a way to allow her students to still practice their math skills. Stella worked closely with Erica St. John, Westridge’s Service Learning Coordinator, to transfer the club online. Currently, Stella has several Google Forms that her students can fill out and is working hard to find other ways to continue the club online. 

“I continued the math club online because I care about my students and wanted to do something to help them get through this difficult time,” expressed Stella. “By continuing the math club, an activity they think is fun, it might help, and also will prepare them for next year’s Math Field Day.”

Example of Stella B. ‘21 Google Forms for her students at Washington Elementary.

Tzedek G. ‘24, a DJ,  has been throwing virtual dance parties to make quarantine feel less lonely while getting people to move around. She also has hosted an informational dance party about COVID-19, which explained the reasons why it is important to stay home. 

“We socially distance ourselves to be safe during COVID-19, but this doesn’t mean we have to be alone,” said Tzedek. “The reason I hosted the online dance was to bring people together with music, and safely bring fun and community to people’s homes. That is one of the greatest things about being a DJ, to be able to bring light and positivity into people’s lives. Even during such an unknown and scary time.”

Students are not the only ones enacting change from their homes. Recently, Courtney Seiberling, Westridge’s Yoga Teacher, hosted an online donation-based yoga class, where she raised $600 to donate to the LA Regional Food Bank. The yoga class was made up of twenty of Seiberling’s friends and family, including Westridge faculty. Seiberling originally got the idea from a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Pittsburgh.  She started donation-based yoga classes on Zoom. Seiberling knew an online yoga class of her own was the perfect way to help. 

Photo by Courtney Seiberling Courtney Seiberling on Zoom getting ready to teach her family and friends yoga.

“I know that staying home is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and keep safe right now, but I also wanted to contribute in some way,” explained Seiberling. “It was fun to gather people I love to do something nice for themselves and take care of others while doing it.”  

Erica St. John has also been working with the LA city Animal Shelters to place animals in foster homes. St. John and her daughter have been bringing organic greens to the rabbits and homemade treats to the dogs that have been left in the shelters once a week.

“The need to get animals out of the shelters was great when they stopped allowing volunteers, but then two of their shelters temporarily closed due to COVID- 19,” commented St. John. “We really had to scramble to get animals into foster homes and adopted.” 

Other students at Westridge have been using their social media platforms to highlight organizations needing donations. Everyday Ruby M. ‘20 posts about organizations and movements led by women, queer people, and people of color to help educate her followers about different areas in need. 

“My goal is to be a part of changing the world, and the first step to that is getting educated,” explained Ruby. “I find it so important to post on social media and share organizations and individuals who are doing radical work to transform our world. If, in so doing, I can help even one person listen to a voice they’ve long ignored or join a movement they previously didn’t care for, that is a victory for me.” 

Photo by Emily S. ‘20 Screenshot of one of Ruby M. ‘20’s posts on Instagram about donating to the organization border kindness