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Eighth Graders Interview SF Chief of Staff

Friday, December 17, 2021

At CDS, we believe that active participation in personally and socially meaningful work is one of the most important aspects of learning, and our students cannot do this work without knowing what’s going on in the world around them. Each year, our Eighth Grade Humanities students create a class newspaper which covers stories from the entire nation in addition to the CDS community. For this edition they are working on an article about political controversies in the state of California, and they wanted to get the testimony of an expert.

Some of our families helped us get in touch with Sean Elsbernd, Chief of Staff to Mayor London Breed, and he agreed to have a Zoom conversation with the eighth graders. In their meeting, Sean discussed topics such as abortion, gun control, immigration, the January 6th insurrection, and COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and talked about the city’s response to each of these issues. In a moment which could be inspirational for our young writers, he also reflected on his childhood love of journalism and stories and how it led him to pursue politics as a career. The students took turns asking questions and noted down his responses, and their article based on the interview is scheduled to be published next month.

“Everything in my class is about speaking truth to power,” Eighth Grade Humanities teacher Terry Ashkinos told us, “and part of that is making sure that people are approachable.” We’re grateful to Sean for talking and listening to our students, and the eighth graders plan to continue their political education by reaching out to politicians on a national level, whether in person or on Zoom.