by LINDA FRABL | photos by Forever Photography by Liberty

Combating Prejudice

These three sophomores at Del Norte High School, twins Lola and Sophie Bulkin and their friend Ellie Zeiler, created their own Instagram account last year, called the Together As One (TGAO) movement, after all three experienced prejudiced behavior from their fellow students. The site expanded into a school club and nonprofit organization, and Lola, Sophie, and Ellie have even been on a Channel 8 televised community meeting panel in which they promoted their TGAO mission.

Lola said, “We thought that creating a positive and inclusive platform to spread awareness to the community would be an effective way to combat any growing hate.” Ellie shared, “By starting TGAO, we created an outlet for teens to hear other people’s stories, no matter their culture, lifestyle, or religion.” The TGAO club meets at school twice a month, and the students are encouraged to share their ideas and experiences in a supportive environment. The attendees also do such activities as make appreciation cards and create and hang posters throughout the campus.

About a month after initially forming TGAO, the Chabad of Poway shooting incident took place, which affected the girls deeply as each had ties to the temple – all three had attended its preschool. Through their TGAO platform, the girls made and sold t-shirts to raise funds for the Chabad of Poway victims. Sophie elaborated, “The t-shirts represented a message of unity, kindness, and acceptance. The support of our community showed how impactful one person’s actions could be, and how we must all stand together and embrace each other’s differences.”


Name: Lola Bulkin (15)
School: Del Norte High School
Grade: 10
Parents: Nelly and Anatoly Bulkin
Siblings: Alex (24), Michael (22), and Sophie (15)
Favorite Local Spot: Del Mar Beach


Name: Sophie Bulkin (15)
School: Del Norte High School
Grade: 10
Parents: Nelly and Anatoly Bulkin
Siblings: Alex (24), Michael (22), and Lola (15)
Favorite Local Spot: Powerhouse Park


Name: Ellie Zeiler (16)
School: Del Norte High School
Grade: 10
Parents: Rick and Sarah Zeiler
Siblings: Ben (14) and William (14)
Favorite Local Spot: My house


The girls are now working toward bringing their club and its values to other San Diego area schools, starting with Poway High School. Lola revealed, “Ultimately, we hope to spread our club to every Poway Unified School District high school and continue to grow as a movement.” Ellie said, “We’d also love to work with elementary and middle schools so we can reach kids before they get to high school, which seems to be when a lot more prejudice comes out.”

Another TGAO endeavor the girls are undertaking is improving the Instagram platform by adding more videos featuring other students. Sophie exclaimed, “We are trying to express the cultural differences in our community by interviewing kids from both our school and other schools.” Ellie added, “It takes a lot of courage to tell your story and put yourself out there but once you do, you realize so many other people can relate.”

“The support of our community showed how impactful one person’s actions could be, and how we must all stand together and embrace each other’s differences.” – Sophie Bulkin

When they’re not involved with TGAO, each girl keeps busy with various pursuits. Ellie volunteers by teaching golf at the Special Olympics, Lola plays soccer for her high school and for Force FC, and Sophie also plays soccer for her high school and takes rowing classes. All three plan to attend college and to continue dedicating their time to the TGAO movement for many years to come.

Follow Together As One on Instagram @tgaomovement.