Students Tackle Critical Issues at Second Annual “Call to Action” Symposium


Students in Dr. Keitha Burnett’s United States Government classes celebrated the second annual “Call to Action” Symposium on Dec. 14. Students presented their research papers on a variety of issues including water scarcity, gun control, and mental illness.

Anya Gruener, Copy Editor

Water scarcity, gun control, and mental illness were just a few of the issues covered in the “Call to Action” Symposium hosted by Dr. Keitha Burnett on Dec. 14. The second annual event featured research papers from students in Burnett’s United States Government classes. 

“I think it is relevant for students to be able to make a connection to issues beyond the classroom. If we are looking at the government, we have to be able to translate that into some form of action,” said Burnett. 

The theme of the event was “Defining Pathways to Current Issues in the Modern World.” According to Burnett, students chose topics where they felt they could affect change. 

“I ask the students ‘What is important to you, if there was something you could change what would it be?’ And from there the students select their own topics. I want to emphasize to students that they can make a difference,” said Burnett.

The presentation took place in the early evening at the Upper School Student Union. Students presented in front of both fellow peers and attending guests.  

 “The topic that I chose to present was mass incarceration in the United States and its impacts,” said junior Claire Russell. “I thought the event was really beneficial because I was able to receive feedback from a new audience. From this feedback I was made aware of crucial factors which introduced me to a whole new set of research.” 

The event provided participants with an experience beyond classroom discussion.  

“The event gave the students a chance to see themselves in an environment that is similar to that of a college, not just doing a presentation, but a symposium. Something just a step higher than a classroom setting. There is no price to an experience like that,” said Burnett.

In the future Burnett hopes to grow this event in order to reach a wider audience.  

“I would like to have other independent schools involved. That is what I am working on now. I would like to have a regional event which would include Miami Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach. And from there I am looking to expand it to a state level. I just think it is so important to have students speak their truth, and that is really what it is all about,” said Burnett.