By Killian Lynch, Features Editor
The year 2015/16 opened our eyes as students to many issues we may have overlooked previously. Instances last year caused us to see that discrimination can be as present in our halls as it can be anywhere else. It’s a truth that many of us did not want to face, and some still refuse. Regardless, many of us students have become and remained outraged. Retaliation showed itself in the form of pleas for change on social media, and, of course, the walk out near the end of last school year. In this country, education is a right, and it cannot reach it’s full potential in a school that does not have perfect respect. The administration shares our concerns, and although it’s really only students that can make these changes, they are taking efforts to start the process.
Many departments are working to include a more diverse curriculum in their classrooms. The goal of this is to expose all students to many different perspectives, which would ideally breed more understanding between peers. An example of starting these conversations inside the classroom is to be seen in Exploring Culture & Identity. Through focusing on literature, art, history and current events related to people of color, this class aims to educate students on other perspectives and encourages them to share their own. A class like this has never existed in our school, and there is reason to believe it will do exactly as it intends.
For a more involved approach, students can look to Student Voices for Equity.They meet Wednesdays after school in Ms. Nelson’s room. Students that feel voiceless in our community are encouraged to participate and make an effective change. While it also plans on bringing attention to the problems facing people of color, it aims more to celebrate unity through diversity. This can include diversity of any and all kinds.
Our ASB class shares this goal. Their approach is to create unlikely alliances between many diverse, and some lesser known groups within the school. When I talked to Stapp in preparation for this article, he provided me with a few examples. One of which was a joking request by the Boy’s Varsity Soccer coach to have a mariachi band perform at the games in an effort to improve attendance. FGHS has a very recent Mariachi club, and perhaps this is their time to shine. Whether this will actually happen or not is undecided, but it’s just another instance of this school’s persistence towards unity through diversity. Bureaucratic reasons that prevented ASB from doing this in previous years have since been eliminated.
You may have heard stirrings about “Breaking Down the Walls”, a program to be carried out the week of October 10th. Intimidating as it may sound it is a program, “designed to unify, empower, and engage every student to create a positive and supportive school culture,” as their website claims. They hope to achieve this with a combination of school assemblies and workshops geared towards, “building a common sense of purpose and identity,” in our school. Ideally this would create more understanding and compassion among us as students, something we’ve been lacking. Three hundred students will be participating in these day-long workshops. From there they are encouraged to share their new perspective with the rest of us.
The school is doing what it can to create effective change. No one, teachers, administration, or otherwise, have any delusions of this program immediately solving all issues within our school. The intention is to take a, “big step forward towards unity, to back this up with actions, and to take no steps back,” in the words of Mr. Stapp. It’s a mighty feat, but one of which we are capable of.
Things may have seemed bleak. I encourage you to remember that we live in a world that has gradually become more accepting, however slowly and inconsistently. Consider then a world of hope and progress, and join us in making that change.