Humans of Liberty HS
When Liberty HS social studies teacher Adam Reitz noticed how many different types of students walked Liberty’s halls, he knew he wanted to find a way to highlight this diversity. Inspired by the Humans of New York Instagram account that features interviews collected on the streets of New York, he decided to create his own: Humans of Liberty High School.
“There’s just so many interesting kids at Liberty,” Reitz said. “You hear about the same kids over and over again, the kids who are involved in sports, kids who are involved in the arts and things like that, and when you think about it, there’s a lot of interesting kids sitting in your classroom that have things going on that you would never even know.”
After coming up with the idea for the Instagram account, Reitz proposed it to Amanda Hinkel, LHS assistant principal. Although a separate initiative, she immediately made a connection between the aims of the account and the No Place for Hate program. She submitted the idea to the Anti-Defamation Project and they granted it approval.
The Instagram account has since become a collaborative effort. Reitz emails guidance counselors for suggestions of students to feature, and other teachers, including those from the English as a Second Language (ESOL) program, email their suggestions to Reitz.
Other faculty members have been involved since the account’s beginnings, but now students have begun to take notice. The newly formed LHS Photography Club approached Reitz about helping take pictures of students for the account, which he hopes to coordinate as the project continues.
In addition to featuring students, the account also highlights faculty members and alumni with interesting stories, including a band director who was formerly a Marine, a teacher who recently celebrated Hanukkah and an alumna who heads Project Lead the Way.
Both Hinkel and Reitz agree that the goal of this account is to promote understanding and acceptance through the telling of individuals’ stories.
“I think it showcases how incredibly unique every individual at Liberty is and how it illustrates basically the city. We have kids that come from so many different backgrounds that have so much going on in their lives,” Hinkel said.
“Everyone’s got a unique story, and we all have our stories that make us who we are,” Reitz said. “I think if everyone just stopped and listened to everyone’s story, maybe we wouldn’t live in a world with such hatred and divisiveness and misunderstandings and misconceptions. I think if you know why someone is the way they are, it’s much easier to communicate with each other and understand each other.”
The Humans of LHS account can be found @HumansofLibertyHighSchool on Instagram or on LHS’s web page, basdwpweb.beth.k12.pa.us/liberty/.