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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Many of Needham High’s students came home from school with a new addition to their wardrobes on Thursday, March 15, after participating in the annual Make a Statement Day shirt-decorating event.
“It’s a tradition that has been a part of Needham High School for quite a long time now,” said Carolyn Tracey from Needham Youth and Family Services. “Essentially, people felt there was a need to give students an opportunity to express themselves in a positive way, and it was born out of that idea to give kids a creative outlet.”
With Needham Youth and Family Services’ partnership with Mark’s Moving and Lisa’s Boutique making it possible to afford dozens of various sized shirts, Needham High students were invited to decorate them after school to then wear the following day. Needham Youth and Family Services’ also worked closely with the high school’s guidance department to host the event.
While some students chose to decorate shirts with messages about mental health, inner beauty, and spreading kindness, others decided to write more political statements and illustrate issues of racism and gun violence. Some simply chose to write and draw silly things, and even a handful of faculty members made shirts.
“What’s particularly exciting about this year is that we reached out to a lot of the student groups and clubs that have already formed and where there are groups of students who have topics and causes that they feel passionate about, and they chose to make shirts together,” Carolyn said.
After seeing her sisters go through Needham High School decorating shirts year after year, freshman Danielle Merken decided to participate in Make a Statement Day by decorating a shirt and helping to organize the day for her peers.
“I think it’s really cool,” Danielle said. “I didn’t know that this many people would show up, because I haven’t experienced it before. It’s just cool because everyone’s [shirts] say something like what they’re feeling or what they want to do, and it’s just good to see everyone come together.”
While the snowstorm delayed the original plan to host the shirt-decorating event on a half-day, Carolyn and Needham Youth and Family Services were pleased with the turnout.
“The way we view it is that if there is even a small number of kids who choose to come, have a nice day of doing something creative together, and it makes them happy, then the whole day is a success,” Carolyn said.