Restorative Justice must be served at WCHS


Photo Courtesy of Principal John Taylor

On April 25, 2023 Principal John Taylor sent out an email about the graffiti found in the WCHS bathroom. This event resulted in a restorative justice lesson during pride the next day.

By Jordan Pashkoff, Editor-in-Chief

On April 25, the WCHS community received an email from Principal John Taylor about hateful graffiti that was written on the wall of one of the girl’s bathrooms. While what was written was disclosed, Principal Taylor did announce that the graffiti featured antisemitic and homophobic comments.

“This type of hateful language is unacceptable, and vandalism has no place at Winston Churchill High School,” Principal Taylor, in his email, said. “Due to the quick reporting of the graffiti to our building Security and Building Services teams by an alert student, the offensive remarks were removed.”

This is not the first time that WCHS has had an issue with harmful rhetoric being written on the bathroom walls. As antisemitism, racism and homophobia unfortunately runs rampant around the county, it does the same throughout the halls of WCHS.

“As a No Place for Hate school, we work hard to educate our students about the negative impact of hateful and hurtful words and symbols,” Taylor said. “Any student found to be using or promoting hateful language will receive strict consequences per the MCPS Student Code of Conduct. We do not, and will not, tolerate bigotry, antisemitism, or racism of any kind at Winston Churchill.”

The incident is currently under investigation by WCHS along with the MCPS Office of School Security and Emergency Management and the Montgomery County Police. As for the immediate action of the school, during the next day’s Pride (Wednesday, April 26), all students participated in a restorative justice lesson. As defined by the MCPS website, restorative justice is “an approach to building community, self-care, and conflict resolution.”

“I think it is really important we do something to address the antisemitism and bigotry that goes on at Churchill. It is really not ok and it is good that the school is acknowledging the situation,” WCHS senior Lily Kreindler said. “The rise we have seen in antisemitism, racism and hate speech is insane and needs to be combatted.”

Each class was instructed to sit in a circle before the Restorative Justice started. The lesson started off with a community builder where students were asked about their favorite childhood toy. After that, teachers went over a slideshow about community and combating hate. This Pride lesson gave students the opportunity to reflect on the situation and how it impacts themselves and those around them.

“Everyone should feel comfortable in the WCHS community and not have to go to school and be met with hateful comments,” Kreindler said.

Similar to other pride lessons, many students did not want to participate or pay attention during the lesson, an issue that WCHS has struggled to fix.

“This defeats its purpose and lessens these programs’ effectiveness on the community,” WCHS senior Isabella Zoll said. “It is imperative for the wellbeing of students for WCHS to make these lessons more engaging so more students will participate and pay attention.”

This is most likely not the last hate speech lesson that will happen this school year as the administration hopes to lessen the likelihood of these occurrences. With the help of students and faculty, Restorative Justice could have a very positive impact on WCHS.

“While the Restorative Justice program is one step in the right direction, WCHS, and MCPS as a collective whole, have much more work to do to fully combat the issues we have experienced yet again with this graffiti incident,” Kreindler said.