Category Archives: 3. Committees

Charles Tubbs Receives 2021 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award

Introduced by Steve Goldberg

Top left: Steve Goldberg and Charles Tubbs; Top right: Bob Dinndorf, Charles Tubbs and Charles McLimans

Charles Tubbs is the Director of Dane County Emergency Management, but that’s just part of his story. Charles has been a model of humanitarian service and leadership throughout his entire career, leveraging his skills as a peace-maker, a problem solver, a healer, a mentor, an innovator and a bridge-builder way beyond his profession and across many communities. His lifelong career has been in the field of law enforcement and public safety, and he has approached all of his jobs in this field in much the same way Rabbi Swarsensky would have done.

For example, he has always insisted on treating incarcerated individuals with dignity and respect. That’s what the Rabbi would have done. He places a high priority on protecting the most vulnerable, marginalized citizens in our community and throughout the country. That’s what the Rabbi did. He uses his special talents and insight on mental health and addiction issues to lead local and national initiatives addressing those complex challenges. That’s what the Rabbi would have done.

Ten years ago, Charles placed himself at the center of the prolonged demonstration in and around the State Capitol building to provide a calming influence during a volatile, tense time — much as the Rabbi did during the Vietnam War protests in the sixties. And just like the Rabbi, he places the highest value on each person entrusted to his care. And today this man plays a key role in leading us through the pandemic.

He’s served in leadership roles with local human service organizations, including 100 Black Men of Madison, Journey Mental Health Center, Restoring Roots, Madison’s NAACP Chapter, and many others. 

His nominators wrote: “Charles is engaged in the same fierce pursuit of justice and mercy that made Rabbi Swarsensky such a remarkable gift to our Rotary Club, to the community and to the world. Indeed he lives the very qualities that led our club to establish the Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award.”

He’s the type of humanitarian Rabbi Swarsensky would have been proud to know; proud to work with; and proud to walk with. So it is in that spirit that the Rotary Club of Madison presents the 40th annual Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award to Charles Tubbs.   

Along with this award, a $2,500 grant is presented by the Madison Rotary Foundation to an agency of the recipient’s choice.  Charles Tubbs has chosen Restoring Roots to receive this grant.  

The Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award was established in 1982 and identifies individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to the humanitarian service in the greater Madison community, in the tradition so well exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky.   The award-winning documentary video, “A Portrait:  Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky,” that was created and produced by Rotarian Dick Goldberg with assistance by Wisconsin Public Television, provides background on Manfred Swarsensky and can be viewed on YouTube, and the Rotary office also has a copy of the video for any member wishing to view it.

2020 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award Recipient is Fellow Rotarian Floyd Rose

Presented by Joyce Bromley – Nov. 18, 2020

Today we honor the memory of Rabbi Manfred E. Swarsensky, a beloved member of our Club until his death in 1981.  He was admired as a leader for inter-faith dialogue, religious tolerance, and civil rights.  Before coming to Madison he had a brilliant career as a Rabbi in Berlin where he was famous for his sermons, until the Nazis burned down his synagogue and sent him to a concentration camp.  Many of his family members and friends were victims of the Holocaust.  He was released.  At 39 years old and alone, he came to Madison and founded Temple Beth El.  We, as well as the Madison community, came to admire him and respect him for his dedicated leadership to peacemaking and forgiveness, for building bridges and reconciliation.  Each year we designate an award to someone who emanates the Rabbi’s ideals. 

This year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award recipient is Dr. Floyd Rose. For decades his active voice in education in the Madison Community has been his avocation—always working in partnerships to help others do better for themselves.  As Dawn Crim stated, “his passion work is education and his support of the next generation.”  He seeks to find solutions with the Madison Metropolitan School District and families surrounding the persistent educational achievement gap between white students and students of color. 

As President of 100 Black Men of Madison, he sees that members of this organization are role models for the community.  They attend schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District on the first day of class to welcome students and their parents to the school year.  In preparation for school, for 26 years they have led the “Annual Back to School Celebration” campaign providing free backpacks AND school supplies for students from limited-income families.  When schools transitioned to virtual education, the backpack project promptly transitioned into Project 3000, which represents the 3000 local students in families with limited incomes.

The tasks before them were immediate.  Dr. Rose recognized that virtual learning at home requires more than a student and a laptop.  The entire family needs to be supported in their student’s academic pursuits.  Parents and caregivers require resources necessary to facilitate learning.  Families need technical and guidance support   Project 3000 works with families to ensure that each student has an internet installation and access—and a plan to sustain service and utilities.  When appropriate, parents, caregivers, and students are provided with basic computer training.  This support includes mentoring, educational coaching, and tutoring.  Dr. Rose recognized that this level of attention is important to ensure that all school-age students have the necessary educational support to be successful. 

This endeavor is in addition to the SOAR partnership with 100 Black Men of Madison and the United Way of Dane County that began in 2016.  This comprehensive program is designed to decrease truancy rates and increase high school graduation rates.  It begins with one-on-one mentoring of students in middle school and continues through high school.   These projects require a substantial commitment to the benefit of others—for the next generation.

I will conclude with a quote from Bob Sorge who wrote of Dr. Rose—he is an excellent embodiment of … the social justice advocacy, personal insight, and empathy reflected by the work and life of Rabbi Swarsensky. 

Our congratulations to Dr. Floyd Rose on receiving this year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award.  Along with this award, a $2,500 grant is presented by the Madison Rotary Foundation to an agency of the recipient’s choice.  Dr. Rose has chosen our annual Community Grants Campaign to receive this grant.  

The Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award was established in 1982 and identifies individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to the humanitarian service in the greater Madison community, in the tradition so well exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky.   The award-winning documentary video, “A Portrait: Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky,” that was created and produced by Rotarian Dick Goldberg with assistance by Wisconsin Public Television, provides background on Manfred Swarsensky and can be viewed on YouTube, and the Rotary office also has a copy of the video for any member wishing to view it.

20th Annual Rotary Club of Madison Ethics Symposium – Feb 14, 2020 – Monona Terrace

submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Mike Engelberger & Neil Fauerbach


Our 20th Annual Rotary Club of Madison Ethics Symposium was held on Friday, February 14th, at Monona Terrace with over 200 juniors from 19 different high schools in Dane County in attendance.

Evidence of the success of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium was clearly revealed by the comments from students at the end of the day:

  • “After discussing these ethic situations, I am ready to take on the world, and I want to be a partner with Rotary’s advocacy.”
  • “Thank you for taking me outside my comfort zone and teaching me to appreciate discussing ethical dilemmas. I gained new skills that will be helpful to me.”
  • “The thoughtful discussion allowed me to better take in other’s ideas.” “I appreciated having a discussion with people from different backgrounds who brought different perspectives.”
  • “As the next generation to be leaders, do not underestimate us. We shared ideas and some are different from ours, but everyone had an opportunity to participate.  We will take the skills that we learned into the rest of our lives.”

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Students expressed surprise at the impact this program had on them.  They attended out of curiosity, they knew someone who attended in the past, or as one student honestly admitted—he would receive a free lunch.  This program provided skills to help them impact social changes for the betterment of the community.

RES2020-7In this 20th anniversary of our Rotary Ethics Symposium, we continue to provide a valuable format for preparing students to take on challenging ethical issues.  The day began with a session for all students, school representatives, and Rotary members.  Mike Gotzler, Chair of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium, welcomed everyone and gave an overview of the wide range of contributions Rotary and Rotarians make to their communities and to the world.

The Edgewood College Theatre group warmed up the audience by playing out various scenes and scenarios of ethical dilemmas that students could encounter.  Instead of resolving the dilemma on stage, the actors asked students in the audience to identify the dilemma and asked what issues should be considered in order to resolve the problem (e.g. a student not fulfilling her part of a group project, a friend stereo-typing a Hispanic student) and the audience responded.

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Next, the scattering of 200 students into 11 different discussion rooms began.  The Rotary Ethics committee assigned students to assure a broad representation to enrich each discussion.  In each discussion room were students who represented urban and rural schools, various ethnic groups, various races, and various nationalities.  The facilitators developed them as a group.  The first principle was to establish the ground rules that began and ended with “Treat every person in the room with complete and unconditional respect.”

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They were taught the R-O-T-A-R-Y Framework at which they would practice through three workshops:  Recognize an ethical issue; Obtain information; Test alternative actions from various perspectives; Act consistently with one’s best judgment; Reflect, with more information be willing to adjust your thinking; Yield on ethical judgments to exemplify human beings “at our best.”

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They were then prepared to face their dilemmas, but first—before they begin using the Rotary Framework—they were asked what their gut reaction is to the dilemma.  Then they began the skills building based on the Rotary format taking into consideration more information and from different perspectives. They had the prerogative to change their minds—and they often did.

HO7A5713Rotarians working on the Ethic Symposium taskforce provided a challenging dilemma for each session that ranged from: (1) to skip school in order to participate in a march to support a friend and their cause; (2) the role of students to object to having the school purchase inexpensive sports clothes made by companies using child labor; and (3) how to react to anti-Semitism.

The day was a success because of the leadership provided by Mike Gotzler, Chair of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium.  Over several months, he met regularly with his committee to fine-tune the arrangements.  They worked diligently to broaden the demographics in each session to provide the broadest experiences for students.  He put together a taskforce of Rotarians who developed compelling ethical dilemmas for the students to consider.  He chose outstanding trainers—Jason Ilstrup, Sandy Morales, Dave Scher—to prepare facilitators and breakout room hosts for their roles.  By February 14th, we were ready and altogether over 50 Rotarians volunteered.

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Thanks to all for making our 20th annual Rotary Ethics Symposium a huge success.

Visit our club’s Facebook page for more photos.


19th Annual Ethics Symposium Held on February 15 at Monona Terrace

submitted by Joyce Bromley

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On this very day (February 15th), 2418 years after the city of Athens sentenced Socrates to death for corrupting the minds of youth and for impiety (399 BC), Rotary had the audacity to hold its 19th annual Ethics Symposium in the City of Madison.  President Jason Beren gave a heartwarming welcome and an overview of the many ways Rotary contributes to the betterment of the world.  He invited students to become a part of Rotary beginning with Interact.

Nearly 200 students representing 11th graders from 19 area high schools met at the Monona Terrace to learn how to think about issues beyond their own welfare—and how to act ethically.  Students were assigned to various groups throughout the Symposium.  This scramble allowed them to have discussions with students from various backgrounds.  Students represented large urban schools and smaller schools, some from rural areas; students whose families are first generation immigrants, or are themselves immigrants; privileged and underprivileged; well-represented in society and others who feel under-represented; and students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

We are faced with dilemmas every day.  Some dilemmas are large, some are small; some are personal, some involve a community; some require an immediate response and some take time to resolve.  Many are gut-wrenching and can either strengthen a relationship or destroy it.  Some keep you in a group, others make you an outsider.  Often dilemmas do not have a right or wrong answer.  Ethics training provides a framework to analyze how to arrive at a socially beneficial action.

Our own Rotarian, Anthony Gray, CEO of the Institute for Global Ethics, led the call and over 50 volunteers carried the Rotary virtual “banner.”  Among the Rotarians were seasoned ethicists who had worked with the Symposium for several years, and those who joined for the first time.  We were privileged to be trained in an ethical approach prior to the Symposium.  This training provided a well-organized process for the day and helped us utilize each session—essential for each breakout group of 20 students.  You cannot fool students. They would know if we had been unprepared.  Clearly, we passed the test.

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The warm-up to ethics training began with performances by college students from the Edgewood College Theatre.  These topics introduced dilemmas related to how to make transgender students safe in locker rooms; effects of racial profiling; and a reaction to a request for a job recommendation.

Students I interviewed as they arrived in the morning had a variety of reasons for attending the Symposium.  Some were encouraged to attend, because it would look good on college applications. Others were open to a new experience–they wanted an opportunity to engage with other students beyond their own environment, as well as to learn how to reflect on leaders’ speeches. And many had altruistic reasons.  Most students expressed an interest in caring about people and wanting to find ways to work together to find better solutions to life’s uncertainties.  One expression was powerful: “This is now “our” world, and we need to know how to define it better.”

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Using the Rotary framework these students were presented with dilemmas, and they practiced how to conduct themselves by using standard behavior toward others.  Initially, they were asked to report their “gut reaction.”  Then they began to use the “ethics skills set” in the framework for analysis.  In the end they reported their “final decision.”

  • Recognize an ethical issue—a dilemma cannot be solved until it can be identified.
  • Obtain information about the situation—get facts and collect data.
  • Test alternative actions from various perspectives in 4 stages:  Stage 1: What action benefits me most? (Egoism); Stage 2: What actions do my friends or group members think I should do? (Social Group Relativism); Stage 3: What action would produce the greatest amount of good & the least amount of harm? (Utilitarian); and Stage 4: What action best respects the rights and dignity of each person? (Rights—What will be fair to all concerned?)
  • Act consistently using your best judgment with the data/facts available.
  • Reflect on your decision. Be willing to adjust a decision as you obtain more data/facts and reactions of others.
  • Yield on your ethical judgments, these will govern your conduct and become your character.

The dilemmas presented in the Symposium were issues from actual school board records.  They included cheating, racial disparity, and violence in schools.

This generation of students has lived with principles of “duck and cover;” that is, how to conduct themselves when an “intruder” is in or near their school and their school is in “lock-down.”  This is evasive language which really means, if someone exhibits threatening (even life threatening—e.g. an armed person) behavior, drills are used to teach students and teachers what they each can do for protection.

The final dilemma of the day concerned a proposal to have teachers with a concealed carry license and annual additional mandatory training with local police to voluntarily carry guns to school.  Would this make schools safer or give students the perception of being safer?  In this exercise, each student was to put herself/himself in the role of a student representative on the school board and represent the student body.  After the discussion that included arguments for and against the proposal, the representative had to vote.  In the session that I attended, of the 18 students, the “student body” voted 17:1 to reject the proposal and maintain the current “no firearms” policy.  The trauma these students expressed, and continue to feel, about the gunfire they experienced has defined their high school education.  Eventually, the student who would initially vote to allow teachers to carry guns under these circumstances was willing to consider other safety measures that could be put in place instead of guns.  The value of this exercise, and all of the others throughout the Symposium, was that students felt safe in expressing their shift in thinking.  Many students shifted from their “gut-reaction” when they reported their final decision.

Teachers recognize that much of their own learning comes from their students.  This was certainly true at the Ethics Symposium.  By the end of the Symposium, students were asked their reaction.  Their experiences were wider than “this will be good on my college application” (which it undoubtedly would be) to the benefit of having their views validated.  They appreciated that the Symposium was not a lecture course, where they were told how they were to do something. They struggled with topics and had to engage in dynamic groups, sometimes with others from very different life experiences.  They appreciated the respect they received from offering different perspectives.

Some may accuse Rotary of impiety because these students were not entirely satisfied with the status quo.  If teaching these students how to think rather than what to think is corrupting the minds of youth—then we would certainly be guilty.  We came away with the satisfaction that these students feel they have obtained tools to help them practice ethical behavior.  Dan Mahoney, Counselor at Memorial High School, and a staunch supporter of the Rotary Interact Program, said that over the years, he has witnessed the value of the Ethics Symposium.  For students who attend, it has been life-changing (and for the good).

18th Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium Held Feb. 16 at Monona Terrace:  Learning the “Right Way to React”

Submitted by Carole Trone; photos by Margaret Murphy


“Oh, I like your pin!” exclaimed Sun Prairie High School student Thomas Collins. Thomas had interrupted his own polite response to my question about why he had signed up for this year’s Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium. Thomas and more than 200 other fellow high school juniors from 23 area high schools gathered on Friday, February 16, 2018, for the 18th Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, underwritten by the Madison Rotary Foundation. Thomas and fellow classmate Jacob Monforte readily confirmed that Rotary was a familiar organization to them as they rattled off different community events that they had participated in. The Ethics Symposium, however, drew their particular interest. They jumped at the chance to sign up because it was important to them to learn “the right way to react.” Conversations with many other students that day confirmed that these young people were seeking guidance. No strangers to difficult situations, Friday’s gathering of students from across the Madison area embraced the opportunity to learn more about ethics and from each other.

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This year’s Rotary Ethics Symposium chair was Dave Scher, who coordinated the day’s program with the help of 20 fellow Rotarians and the Rotary office staff. For the planning committee, this day was the culmination of months of discussions about the most effective ways to share the Rotary ethical framework through scenarios that were ethically complex and would resonate with high school students. The thoughtful planning paid off. Members of the Edgewood College Theatre Group started the morning by acting out three different ethical dilemmas: 1) a group classroom project where one student slacked off; 2) a dilemma about whether a sports team should kneel during the national anthem; and 3) reporting a felony conviction on a college application form. Many different students shared their responses and judgments to follow-up questions skillfully posed by members of the Edgewood College Theatre Group. Notably, not every comment uniformly confirmed the same judgments, but every comment was met with respect by the large group of peers. Unconditional respect was one of several discussion ground rules outlined in the program and stressed by the Rotary facilitators, and students readily complied.


Students buzzed with conversation as they left this large gathering and regrouped for the next three sessions. For the remainder of the morning, students gathered in smaller groups of about 18-20 students for about 55 minutes per session to explore and discuss three different dilemmas: 1) a sexting scenario; 2) a student-teacher equality ratio policy; and 3) the ethics of taxing soda and sugary drinks. Students worked through the dimensions of each dilemma by applying the Rotary framework for Ethical Decision-Making:

     Recognize an Ethical Issue
     Obtain Information about the situation
     Test Alternative Actions
     Act Consistently
     Reflect on your Decision After Acting
     Yield on your Ethical Judgments

The planning committee strategically assigned students to specific sessions in order to connect as many different students from different schools as possible. “Mixing it up” proved to bring one of the most valued dimensions of the day. Megan Andrews of Middleton High School shared that this was her second year of participating because of scheduling conflict for a junior who was unable to attend last year. Megan sought out the chance to attend this year because she found the mix of other ideas from other students to be so insightful. Other students I talked to also felt that the new connection to students from other schools was a highlight of the day. These students craved the chance to learn more about other schools and students who were so close and yet completely unknown to them. One Monona Grove High School student marveled that it was the Symposium that actually connected her to a rich conversation with a La Follette student, “and we’re just down the road from each other!”

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Building stronger relationships in our community is at the core of Rotary and so it’s not surprising that the Ethics Symposium has attracted many faithful Rotarian volunteers over the years. Rotary member Karla Thennes laughed when I asked her why she volunteered. “Well, last year a member of my Porchlight board suggested that I participate, but after that first year I didn’t need any nudging. The kids are amazing! I don’t remember being challenged like this when I was in school. The students who gather here are leaders—you see a real overlap between the students here at the Symposium and the students who are awarded Rotary scholarships.”


Fellow Rotarian Stacy Nemeth agreed. Stacy has volunteered for at least the past eight years of the Symposium, adding that “it’s my favorite Rotarian day of the year.” Stacy has chaired the committee in the past and served this year as a session facilitator with Karla. It’s a big time commitment on a weekday, but with rewards that are so much greater. “You hear so many negatives about today’s youth but then you come here and realize that we’re all going to be fine with these students in charge.” Stacy also observed that it’s a one-day event that returns so much throughout Dane County. “These students go back to their schools with this new knowledge and they share it with their classmates. It’s such a valuable and unique contribution that Rotary brings to the schools.”

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Lunchtime conversations confirmed Stacy’s point. Students from several participating high schools noted that they had no opportunities to have these kinds of discussions in their busy school lives. They valued the time to reflect and also the time to talk and learn from each other. Rotarian Michelle McGrath’s post-lunch invitation for students to share what they learned readily confirmed how much students gained from the day. Dozens of students shared comments like, “I learned that there’s a lot more to consider than your gut,” and “Sometimes what is easy to do is not always right.” With cell phones in remarkably little use at any point during the day, it was clear that students were hungry for this kind of engagement.

For more photos, visit our club’s Facebook page.

Also, Neil Heinen featured our Ethics Symposium during his February 16th editorial on Channel 3000.  Click to watch it.    

2017 Ethics Symposium Highlights

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

dsc_0106More than 200 students from 20 area high schools assembled at Monona Terrace Convention Center on February 17 for the 17th Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, underwritten by our club’s Madison Rotary Foundation. They were welcomed by 2017 Ethics Symposium Chair Steve Johannsen, who noted that we all face ethical dilemmas several times a week. He explained that often it’s a small matter, for example, what to do when your cell phone starts ringing in a meeting. Other dilemmas can be gut-wrenching. Steve introduced the students to a hierarchy of four stages of ethical decision-making:

  • Stage 1: What action benefits me most? (Egoism)
  • Stage 2: What actions would my friends or group members think I should do? (Social Group Relativism)
  • Stage 3: What action would produce the greatest amount of good and the least amount of harm? (Utilitarian)
  • Stage 4: What action best respects the rights and dignity of each person? (Rights)

dsc_0046The First Wave Hip Hop Theater then opened the event artistically with dramatizations of three ethical dilemmas that teens might have to face: what to do when the friend who drove you to a party gets drunk; what to make of a famous athlete’s protest during the national anthem; and how to talk with a friend about a decision he has made. First Wave is a cutting-edge, multicultural, artistic program for UW-Madison students. It was the first university scholarship program in the country centered on the spoken word and hip-hop culture. The actors portrayed the dilemmas with humor and insight, and the moderator (a First Wave alumnus who now teaches in the Verona schools) invited audience participation between acts.

The students then participated in three consecutive breakout sessions in which they considered an ethical dilemma and analyzed it according to the stages of ethical decision-making. The scenarios focused on drunk-driving, affirmative action and transgender locker rooms. Designed by Edgewood College Business Ethics Professor Denis Collins and others, the breakout sessions were led by Rotarians with assistance from Edgewood College students, all of whom had been trained in a half-day session at Edgewood College before the symposium. With 18-20 students in each breakout, the facilitators led the students through a series of small-group discussions in which they deliberated about what action would reflect each level, or stage, of decision-making. The goal was to push students toward higher-level thinking.

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I found the students in the three groups that my team facilitated to be open-minded and thoughtful. They were generally familiar with the issues in the three scenarios, at least through the news. Whether they were personally connected with an issue or not, they found the discussion to be eye-opening. For example, one small-town student said that although he had heard about the transgender issue, he had never talked with anyone about it.  A student from Shabazz City High School responded that in her school there are many transgender students, and anyone may use any restroom or locker room. She added that the discussion at the Ethics Symposium helped her understand why the issue, which she said is “normalized” in her school, is an emotional one for others.


Rotary President Michele McGrath applied her impressive skill in communicating with teens by asking how many wanted to be a CEO of a company or organization in a few years, how many want to lead impactful change in their community, and how many want to lead impactful change in the world. She got an enthusiastic response to all three questions. She explained they can do that through Rotary.

The impact of the day may have been best articulated by the students themselves at lunchtime. Almost 40 of them responded when Steve Johannsen asked what they thought about the experience. Here are some of the things they said:

  • Even though people disagreed, I appreciated that people could talk and be respected.
  • Listening to other people’s opinions made me more open-minded.
  • It’s not OK to isolate someone for being different.
  • If you feel comfortable in school, then you can’t learn.
  • I gained some ideas for our upcoming Awareness Day at school this spring.
  • It was cool how many people think outside the box, not just levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • It helped me understand other schools, and not just the stereotypes about schools.
  • I was shocked by how many people were not mad at each other about their opinions.
  • I was surprised by how easy the ethical framework was to use after the first time.
  • It was good to talk with students about topics I don’t even talk to adults about.
  • I usually don’t share my opinions with people I don’t know. I was comfortable doing that here.
  • I was surprised how insightful and deeply thoughtful people were even though we’re “just teenagers.”
  • As an openly transgender student, I was happy to see how accepting people were of me.
  • I recognized that there was no single right or wrong answer in some issues.
  • I was impressed by how open people were to listening to others. It makes me optimistic and hopeful as we get ready to become the leaders of this nation.