Student Activist: Stanford Rosenthal
Photographed by Cheryl Gerber
For Stanford Rosenthal, community service and advocacy is certainly a family affair. The Isidore Newman School senior became involved with New Orleans recovery shortly after Hurricane Katrina with his mother, Sandy, who runs Levees.org. He also designed and launched sibling sites of the original organization, AreWeAtRisk.org and TheKatrinaMyth.org. At his own school, he founded two community-oriented organizations, Student Services Leaders, which partnered with City Year to restore flooded homes and neighborhoods, and more recently Newman Green, a program for on-campus recycling and also encouraging students to bike or walk to school.
Rosenthal says his most rewarding experience in terms of volunteering was last year’s Bike Week, organized by Newman Green. “We set up bike racks for a school in the Upper 9th Ward, and also around our own school. We handed out ‘Bike Bucks’ to everyone that rode their bike or walked to school. Students could exchange them for T-shirts and food donated by local companies.”
As if this wasn’t enough of a feat in and of itself, Rosenthal says more people participated than he ever expected.
“Most importantly, the following week people still biked to school, even though we were no long giving out Bike Bucks.”
His community involvement has helped him grow as both a person and an activist. “I’ve learned that when you know something is right, you have to take action. When I started Newman Green, climate change was still a divisive issue. Now, only two years later, both major [political] parties agree global warming is an urgent issue.”
Next year Rosenthal will leave our fair city to attend Washington University in St. Louis, where he will major in computer science. He says he will continue using technology and the Internet “to help people by empowering them with information, communication and purpose.” Despite continuing his educational path elsewhere, Rosenthal will carry a piece of home with him, thanks in part to his community activism.
“I feel more connected to my city. In working with so many people through various activities, I know New Orleans very well. When I jog on the streetcar tracks along St. Charles Avenue, I feel pride in what I’ve helped to build.”