By Sammi SLAYBACK
On April 25, Clark Magnet High School participated in the nationwide event known as Denim Day.
Denim Day was started by the Peace Over Violence organization in 1999 in reaction to the dismissal of a sexual assault case that spanned eight years. In 1990, a 45-year-old driving instructor allegedly raped his 18-year-old student during her first driving lesson. The girl’s parents pressed charges, but to no avail; in 1998 the charges were dropped and the accused man was set free.
The court ruled that the tight nature of the victim’s jeans would have required her assistance in removing them and therefore she must have consented to the sexual activity.
Since that incident, Peace Over Violence asked community members, businesses, elected officials and students to participate in Denim Day and wear jeans to help raise awareness about sexual assault.
While April marked Denim Day in L.A.’s 13th anniversary, this is the first year that the Glendale Unified School District has taken part. Clark senior class student Natalie Sarukhanian, who organized Denim Day at Clark, chose the event for her senior project. Following an assembly, also organized by Sarukhanian in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April), Clark Magnet’s first attempt at Denim Day proved to be a success in which all students participated.
“Students were very interested about the topic [when] teachers explained to their classes the purpose of the event,” said Sarukhanian. “All students were [also] very excited to hear they were actually [being] encouraged to wear denim to school, something they would otherwise get in trouble for doing.”
Because Clark is a school that follows a strict uniform dress code, Sarukhanian felt that holding the event at her high school would be a strong representation of the cause.
With student body and staff behind her plan, Sarukhanian was not alone in her efforts to spread the word about the sexual violence prevention and education campaign. With help and support from vice principal Lena Kortoshian and cinematography teacher Matt Stroup, she was able to make a one-minute video that was shown during the school’s morning announcements, informing students about the history of Denim Day. Teachers and students alike engaged in Sarukhanian’s successfully executed event.
“We were very proud to be able to support this cause,” said Kortoshian. “It was great to see a student’s senior project bring the Clark community together.”
Peace Over Violence continues its campaign to educate the community on the topic of sexual violence with help from students and community members like Natalie Sarukhanian.
To become a sponsor, donate, or learn more, visit the Denim Day website at denimdayinla.org.