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Cape Cod Students Gather for Spring Human Rights Academy

Participants from the Spring Human Rights Academy, 2024.

April 17, 2024 (Barnstable, MA) – On Friday, April 12, approximately 60 students from middle and high schools across Cape Cod convened at the Sturgis High School’s 529 Main Street Community Center for the Spring Human Rights Academy. This semi-annual event, organized by the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission, has been a pivotal gathering for over a decade, promoting dialogue on human rights among the youth of Cape Cod.

Sadie Inman of Falmouth High School opened the day by presenting an anti-Semitism informational video she created with peers, addressing rising hate speech. Additional presentations included the Lawrence School’s Racial and Social Justice Club and The Riverview School’s DEI Club, which discussed their cultural and educational events. Mashpee High School’s Ayesha Shafi and Alina Doolan showcased the diverse activities of their club, while Sandwich High School Peer Leaders discussed their community-building initiatives with younger students. Sturgis High School students also shared plans for an upcoming Anti-Racism event scheduled for April 27.

A central theme of this year’s academy, “I is for Inclusion,” fostered student-led discussions on inclusion in social media, tackling issues such as online hate speech and the impact of social media on mental health.

A highlight of the day was the presentation of the Malcolm McDowell Human Rights Award to Ms. Alina Doolan of Mashpee Middle High School. Superintendent Patricia DeBoer praised Ms. Doolan’s leadership and her impactful ‘Who We Are’ immigration project, recently featured at the Cotuit Center for the Arts.

From left to right: Aphrodite Purdy and Debra Troyanos, both advisors from Mashpee High; Patricia DeBoer, the Superintendent of Mashpee; Alina Doolan, the recipient of the Malcolm McDowell award; and Leslie Dominguez-Santos, the Human Rights Coordinator.

The day ended with a larger regional discussion on how students in different schools can work together to increase inclusion across Cape Cod. Some ideas included large-scale community projects and fundraisers. Other ideas were more about respecting everyone and making space to include all. Student leadership was on full display. It was an inspiring final day before each of these schools headed off to their vacation week. These students are truly making Cape Cod a better place.

For more information on how to support or participate in future Human Rights Academies, please contact the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission.

ABOUT THE BARNSTABLE COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS ADVISORY COMMISSION: The mission of the Human Rights Advisory Commission is to promote equal opportunity for all persons of Barnstable County regardless of race, color, religious creed, national origin, gender, age, ancestry, sexual or affectional preference marital, family or military status, source of income, neighborhood or disability, where unlawful discrimination exists in housing, employment, education, public accommodations, town or county services, insurance, banking, credit, and health care. Learn more at 

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD: Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at

MEDIA CONTACT: Leslie Dominguez-Santos, Human Rights Coordinator,