Student activists initiate outreach

Junior’s website supports Darfur

Shelby Layne ’09 is creating a website with friend Dakorah Terrace called LiveBuyGive to promote her fundraising efforts for Darfur. 

Layne has made, collected and sold jewelry over the last year and a half, raising over $16,000 for the Solar Cooker Project run by Jewish World Watch.

“The stoves obviate the need for women to leave the protection of the refugee camps,” Layne said.

People worldwide will be able to view and purchase Layne’s jewelry on

“I decided to expand my project to a website because at my jewelry events, there were always so many people asking about ways for family members and friends across the country to buy my jewelry,” Layne said.

“Knowing the lives of these Darfur refugees are constantly in danger inspired me because I believe it is absolutely unacceptable that people live each day in this inhumane manner,” Layne said.

Junior surprises inner city teenagers

Jackie Matza ’09 teamed up with a South Central Los Angeles youth center A Place Called Home to organize Brand New, an event providing underprivileged teens with new clothes.

After discovering APCH on the internet, Matza became interested in working with the center. Matza realized how often clothes are wasted and decided to get donations for teens at APCH. She wrote letters to several clothing companies, including C&C California, Citizens of Humanity, Enyce, G-Unit, Juicy Couture, Lacoste and Paige Premium Denim, all of which agreed to donate clothes.

Last Friday night, about 75 inner-city teens gathered at the youth center expecting to watch a fashion show. Several teens walked the runway in designer outfits. At the end of the show, the guests were shocked to disover they were going home with five outfits. Volunteers Jenna Berger ’09, Ally Kalt ’09, Olivia Kestin ’09, Caroline Richman ’09, Alex Rivkin ’09, Coco Weaver ’09 and Tessa Wick ’09 helped pick outfits for the teens.

Senior donates instruments

A trumpet player since the second grade, Ian Sprague ’08 often thought about peers who had chosen to leave their instruments to “collect dust in the garage,” as he describes.

After a friend informed him that the jazz program at the Washington Prep High School magnet in South Los Angeles was in danger, he realized the link. 

Sprague’s “Instrument Exchange” takes used instruments from kids who no longer use them and transfers them to the Washington Prep students.

“It’s a redistribution of wealth in a way,” Sprague said. “These instruments could really change these kids’ lives, even if they don’t want to be musicians.”

At the Washington Prep music magnet, students are taught how to make their way in the music industry. 

Sprague delivered eight instruments, which he estimates are worth $2,000. He said limited budgets in public schools are a barrier to providing instruments. 

Sprague hopes he can expand his program  to include Perry Middle School and Henry Clay Middle School, and to increase contact with the students receiving instruments. Sprague also worked with music director Stan Jackson to get the school a grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Sprague will organize the Harvard-Westlake Jazz Marathon again this year and hopes jazz bands from Washington Prep will be able to participate.

“I feel like I have something in common with these people and want to get to know them,” Sprague said.

Sophomore collects shoes

Watching Michael Jackson’s music videos prompted Myles Teasley ’10 to realize how important his organization “A Walk in Your Shoes” could truly be to other people.

“I ended up watching several charity music videos as well,” Teasley said. “They were pleas by many musical artists to save the children in Africa, heal the world.”

Teasley, along with his brother and some friends, founded an organization to collect and donate shoes to underprivileged teens. Since 2001, it has expanded to include donations to Mexico and the greater Los Angeles area.

In two years, Teasley and his brother distributed over 8,000 pairs of shoes. Now, with donations from Harvard-Westlake students and shoe companies such as Nike and Payless, Teasley is looking to stretch the organization’s limits as far as Africa.

“With everyone pitching in, I’m confident that by the time I graduate we will reach that lofty goal and go beyond it,” Teasley said.

“A Walk in Your Shoes” was provisionally approved by the Prefect Council, so students can sign up to help.

“In Los Angeles, I think it’s rare that you get a real, authentic ‘thank you’ from any general person, but these teenagers and their parents’ thanks were so heartfelt,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest things I remember— the ‘thank you’s and ‘God bless you’s.’”