Jewish 3rd graders “March for Change”



Third graders at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School flexed their activist muscles and marched along Ladue Road earlier this week for changes in the world they want to see: among them, caring for the earth and its oceans, LGBTQ+ rights, fighting racism and ableism, women’s rights, preventing gun violence and standing up to bullies.

This “March for Change” was inspired by the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which the 25 third graders had learned about during their social studies classes over the past two months. Mirowitz third grade teachers Priscilla Parentin and Alex Hoffman explained that part of the unit was on empowering these youngsters — even as 9-year-olds — to be agents for positive change in the world.

“We wanted to instill that even as kiddos they are strong,” said Hoffman, “and if they see something they want to change, we want to empower them to do it.”

Parentin said one of the most impactful parts was when they learned about the Children’s Crusade, or Children’s March, where for nearly a week in 1963, more than 5,000 Black students in Birmingham, Ala. marched for racial equality.

“Discrimination often occurs from a fear of the unknown,” said Parentin. “You are less fearful of what you don’t understand when provided with knowledge and exposure.”

Third grader Noble Ilyashov, who feels strongly about the environment, marched carrying a sign to end oil pollution in the oceans.

“The reason we marched is for change. There is a lot of discrimination and stuff like that in the world and we want to change that,” said Noble.

“We got a ton of honks” from cars passing by, showing their support, he added. “We got like 75 honks. Our teacher was holding a ‘Honk for Change’ sign, so that’s probably why there were so many.”

Vivienne Zucker, another third grader, wants to stop ableism — prejudice and discrimination aimed at people with physical and/or mental challenges. She said people should not be treated unfairly because of disabilities of any kind.

“Some people are hating on people who have a disability, or they can’t do something, and I want that to stop,” said Vivienne. She said learning about the Children’s March especially inspired her and that she plans to continue to do more to help end injustices and prejudices of any kind.

Said Noble: “What we learned is that it doesn’t matter what your skin color is or your gender, it matters who you are and what you are.”