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Diversity discussion continues with addition of new diversity committee

Diversity discussion continues

BY JULIA SWAIN

“A lot of the time the racism does not even come from hate and it does not come from bad intent, it’s mainly just ignorance and lack of knowing what they’re doing is hurtful,” said Jordan Taylor, a speaker at the “Is Wadsworth Racist?” panel that took place almost exactly a year ago, this panel, or this conversation rather, caused the citizens of Wadsworth to take a deeper look into how race impacts the lives of Wadsworth students.  

Last year, this conversation had not even been discussed, or at least, it had not been discussed in the public eye. Following The Bruin article last February, people started talking, leading to things that may not have happened before. These things include Wadsworth citizens participating in the Black Lives Matter movement and the creation of an all new diversity and inclusion committee. 

Jayden Taylor and Ollena Arnold are two of the students that took part in the interview last year and offered to participate in it again. 

Both Taylor and Arnold expressed concerns about the direction that the school is going as far as race is concerned, both stating that they feel that the situation has actually gotten worse, not better, due to the fact that conversation has stopped since last year about any changes that need to be made, at least from students.

“The main issue is definitely that no one cares enough to make it [racial inequality] an issue really,” said Arnold. 

However, both had positive opinions of the new diversity committee, saying that they believe that it is a positive step in the right direction, despite the fact that they were not originally happy with the direction that the school is heading.

“It kind of sucks that it is just now happening now that we are seniors and we have had problems since freshman year but [the diversity committee] is still a positive step towards trying to do something,” said Taylor.

Arnold shared similar sentiments.

“I think it [the diversity committee] is a good step that we are taking as a school. I heard them talking about it last year so to hear that it has happened, that actually makes me a little bit happier,” said Arnold.

Arnold added that she would like to see a number of things changed, but most importantly, that minorities will have the courage to speak up without feeling alienated.

“I think that in the next five years, what I want to see changed, is the minorities of the school being able to speak up without feeling threatened, or [without feeling that] ‘if I speak out, I am not going to have friends anymore,’” said Arnold. 

Taylor shared through her personal experiences that she hopes that if minority students are “put on the spot” in the future, that it will be in a positive light. 

“I think for me, minority students are always put on the spot,”said Taylor. “If we are going to be constantly looked at and stared at, maybe in a positive way,” 

Dr. Andrew Hill, Superintendent of Wadsworth City Schools, took the time to respond to these quotes. 

“I would welcome a meeting with the students and Mr. Moore to help us learn more about their concerns and suggestions,” said Hill. 

Layla Norris, freshman at Wadsworth High School, is a part of a group of students that are working together to help Wadsworth High School celebrate Black History Month. Norris stated that she hopes this project will bring Black History Month into Wadsworth City Schools and help students better understand what Black History Month is truly about.

“The point of doing our Black History Month [project] is so that we can bring Black History into all the Wadsworth schools so that people can learn about African Americans and what they deal with,” said Norris.

Norris also explained some of the activities that Wadsworth will be doing during Black History Month. Some of these events include a poster board, bulletin board, and a trivia game. The point of these events, according to Norris, is for Wadsworth students to learn more about Black History Month.

“We are also going to do a trivia game so that it [information about Black History Month] will be right in front of them so that they can research and win prizes,” said Norris. 

Hill acknowledged that change takes time, so while all of these things that are being done all seem to be good steps in the right direction, they are not going to have an instantaneous result. Additionally, for real change to occur, every student is going to need to do their part in order to make this school district a more inclusive place to attend school and is imperative to make real change in our school. 

Layla Norris and Kayla Ross created this bulletin board next to the main office to celebrate Black History Month. Black History Month begins on February 1st. PHOTO BY BRIANNA BECERRA

Board of Education creates diversity committee

BY KAYLA ROSS

The startup of the Diversity Committee was in a year like no other; however, this has not changed the course of action for the committee. There have been monthly meetings throughout the school year via Google Meet.

“I think [COVID-19] presents challenges, but what we’ve learned since March is that those are challenges we can easily overcome, so that the important work that the committee needs to do won’t get held up,” said Dr. Andrew Hill.

The Diversity Committee was created with the start of the 2020-2021 school year to embrace diversity and increase awareness of differences inside and outside of our community.

The committee is composed of teachers, administrators, parents and a few students, totaling about forty members.
So far, the committee has discussed the importance of recognizing diversity in our schools, which begins with embracing diversity among students. Students and teachers in the committee have spoken out against the ignorance that is witnessed throughout the school day.

Anne Rosenberger, an English teacher at Wadsworth High School and an active member of the Diversity Committee, explains that this initiative is important in more ways than one.

“I believe this committee is important because as the world grows and changes, so must we,” says Rosenberger. “There are constantly new perspectives that are being introduced that we need to be respectful of and be aware of. We live in a fabulous community and there is no where else I would rather live or teach, but this is an issue here. There is not a lot of diversity.”

Wadsworth High School is 93 percent white, with 7 percent of students being one or more other races.
This is far lower than the state average for minority enrollment, which is 30 percent according to Public School Review.

Although Wadsworth lacks racial diversity specifically, this committee can also be used to focus on all forms of diversity.

“The diversity committee does not apply simply to race,” said Rosenberger. “It’s about religion, sexual orientation, students with learning disabilities, and anyone who stands out as a minority in our school building. This committee is designed to serve all of those people. This is not a political agenda, this is a human agenda.”
The lack of diversity reaches past the school district. Rosenberger hopes that this committee will also educate the community,

“This committee is not just for the school, but for the community,” says Rosenberger. “I hope that this community will serve as a catalyst for some sort of change. I think the ultimate goal is to educate and to inform people, and for them to respect and welcome diversity in our community.”

Hill explained that the committee was started to begin the discussion about diversity in our schools.

“It is our Board of Educations’s intention to create a committee that can look at the different practices within our school district to figure out ways to better diversify and make everyone feel included,” said Hill. “That’s the goal. This is an open discussion on [diversity]. The actions that come out of this will be driven by the people that are part of the discussions.”

The committee strives to see positive changes in the behavior of anyone involved in the school district.

“I would ultimately like to see to make sure that the practices, procedures, and policies we have in place here work to make everyone here feel included,” said Hill. “We have a student body with demographics that continue to change. We need to make sure that what we do represents the diversity that we have and that everyone here feels like the things we do are inclusive to them as well.”

Students and teachers that are not currently members of the committee are welcome to join.

“If there are other students who are interested in being apart of this committee, it is an open invitation,” said Hill.
The Board of Education’s Diversity Committee will continue to meet monthly to discuss the issues regarding diversity within the community and school district and hope to create change throughout the school and community of Wadsworth.

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