Social Studies teacher David “Mu” Muhammad, sponsor of the humanitarian club Coalition, lis- tens to the chatter of the students as they fill up
the classroom. He stands at the front of the packed room, silently reviewing what he is going to say. Students are crammed into the small space, sharing desk seats, sitting shoulder to shoulder on the floor, while others spill out into the hallway, craning their necks to catch a glimpse into the classroom. He scans the eager faces staring athim, many of whom he does not recognize.
After the first Coalition meeting for the 2015-2016 school year, Muhammad realized that his classroom could barely accommodate the 60 to 70 students who showed up. He debated relocating the meetings to the cafeteria, but decided against it because he did not want to break the tradition of hosting Coalition in his own classroom, room 309. Coalition needs the projectors and whiteboards in order to make their meetings successful. At a typical meeting, there is usually a video or presentation that goes along with the organization that the students decide to support. However, there are challenges that come with trying to instruct a large group of people. With so many students it is difficult to keep everyone under control and the noise and distractions can make students lose focus fast. Therefore, Muhammad has to get creative and find entertaining yet efficient ways of educating students on the causes.
But despite the somewhat chaotic meetings, Coalition gets the desired results that Muhammad looks for.
“Students are united toward the causes we support, and, when our events are successful, it makes everyone feel like they played a role.” Muhammad said.
Senior executive Dalila Miller has been a part of Co- alition for three years. Miller joined Coalition sophomore year because of the great things she heard from upper-classmen. They told her how Coalition holds fun events that raise money to help people all around the world. At Miller’s first Coalition meeting, they discussed upcoming events and important social issues. She noticed how posi- tive everyone was and that energy immediately drew her in.
“I wanted to get involved in Coalition because I did not play any sports or do any other activities at East,” Miller said. “Coalition seemed like the perfect thing for me.”
There are 15 Coalition executives for this school year, and all of them work together to lead the club meetings. Due to the loss of seniors from last year, Muhammad chose students for the board based on each student’s pre- vious interest and commitment to the club. He decided on 15 executives, a record number, because he knows that many students are involved in various activities and can- not devote all of their time to Coalition. With the large board, he hopes the executives will not feel overwhelmed. Students help the executives promote the events mainly through social media and self-made posters that they dis- play around the school. According to Muhammad, word of mouth is the fastest and most effective way to get their message out.
Within the first week of school, Coalition chose their initial organization to support, Anna’s Oven, suggested by senior Katie Lamar. Anna’s Oven is a local restaurant which supports global education. Their motto is “good food for a good cause,” and the owners dedicate 50 percent of all profits to help educate those in need. Coalition will be having a bake sale on Sept. 20 at Prairie Elementary in order to raise their goal of $400.
Another cause that Coalition is supporting is Pencils for Promise, an organization that builds schools in underprivileged countries. These two organizations have the common goal of supporting education for those in need. In October, Coalition will be hosting a dance marathon in the auxiliary gym for Pencils for Promise, and everyone is encouraged to wear costumes.
With a record amount of people wanting to get involved, Muhammad is excited about this upcoming year and what they have planned. He is impressed with the students’ abilities to think outside of the box and brain- storm new ideas for fundraisers and organizations they want to support. Coalition has always been a place where all students, despite their backgrounds, feel comfortable. Muhammad encourages anyone slightly interested to get involved. Even if a student has a busy schedule and can- not come to the meetings, they can still be involved by supporting the events and donating. Some days Coalition is Muhammad’s biggest motivation to stay in education, and the students’ positive energy and involvement is the reason Coalition continues to grow.