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Ally Week continues to push for awareness

A message of solidarity and awareness was a constant during Crescenta Valley High School’s fourth annual Ally Week, which concluded Friday.

The five-day event was created to promote safe schools for the LGBTQ community and is part of a nationwide effort by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

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Crescenta Valley High’s Gay-Straight Alliance organized the event.

Ally Week was founded by Crescenta Valley High social studies and government teacher Alicia Harris.

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“It’s a very special week for the school, and I love to see the work done by the students,” Harris said. “We want to create an environment that is open for all our students, particularly from the most vulnerable groups.”

Each day included different activities.

On Monday, there was a kickoff event with music, pictures and a huge banner in the quad; Tuesday included Preferred Gender Pronoun training for teachers led by students; a choir performance was presented Wednesday; the speech and debate club held a rally Thursday; and rainbow-themed baked goods were on sale Friday.

“It’s fantastic, and I’m always inspired to see what students can do when they come up with their own ideas and support to express themselves,” said Glendale Unified board vice president Jennifer Freemon, who was on campus Wednesday.

“This is about the kids supporting each other and making Crescenta Valley an even more welcoming place,” she added.

This is the fourth time Carsten Sondergaard, president of the local Gay-Straight Alliance, has taken part in the week of events.

“Ally Week is more about a continuation of awareness than it is about quantitative goals,” Sondergaard said. “You can’t really measure that.”

Sondergaard added, “I can say that the amount of legitimacy that we have has increased from year to year. Nobody knew anything about it the first year and we tried our best. But as years have gone by, it’s become an established thing.”

One of the highlights took place Thursday evening on another campus, as Crescenta Valley High’s varsity football team took on visiting Pacific League rival Burroughs High at Glendale High.

Some of the Falcon players wore circular rainbow decals on their helmets, and the team proceeded to defeat its rivals, 28-7.

The day before, Crescenta Valley’s choir was impressive in quickly setting up and performing in the quad during a 15-minute break between classes.

“This event is not just for the LGBTQ community but for the others who might not be aware of what’s going on within the community and even for those who may be homophobic,” student Gwenyth Kim said.

“The LGBTQ community is part of the bigger community, and they deserve respect,” she added.

On Friday, the school’s journalism department released a special post-Ally Week edition.

“Our goal is to strive to achieve equality among all students,” said journalism club senior writer Eric Eskandarian.

“The newspaper helps draw attention to the surrounding community about what we’re doing. That’s what Ally Week is all about,” he added.

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