Recent events incite action from administration


Photo Courtesy of Tom Langerman

Students in leadership class work to promote a united WCHS community through artistic pieces such as banners. Also, a new advisory period will take place once a month for students and staff to discuss grade level and community-wide issues.

By Bryan Fletcher and Fatima Yazdi

Following the recent events involving N-Word usage passes being handed out to students, principal Brandice Heckert and WCHS administration are taking new measures to fight against bigotry, racism and insensitivity at school.

The incident, which has since reached national news headlines, has drawn a large amount of attention to the topics of race and diversity within WCHS. This attention is now being used to initiate discussions that will hopefully raise awareness and visibility for these issues.

“Hearing from multiple people and perspectives is very important,” Heckert said. “I have had the opportunity to engage staff, students and parents in conversations about recent incidents, as well as school climate and culture.”

By discussing the significance of local acts of hate with students, the administration hopes to further spread a message of acceptance to the WCHS population. With the power of the student voice behind their cause, they are sure to find success in raising awareness and social consciousness.

“We were able to meet with a cross section of the student body represented in some clubs and organizations,” Heckert said. “From that meeting came our short clip from homeroom. There is a need for an inclusive student group that can promote change, because the student voice is a powerful one.”
Unfortunately, as shocking and horrific as the N-Word pass incident is, it is not the first example of overt racism and bigotry taking place within WCHS. To some, these hateful acts seem to have become daily events that continue to be ignored by the majority of our community.

“Some students and families have shared that incidents, similar to ones that have occurred recently, have been going on for years and were never fully addressed,” Heckert said. “When you don’t address something and clearly communicate that it will not be tolerated, then it’s bound to continue happening.”

Along with creating an environment for discussion, Heckert and the rest of the administration are looking into new ways to introduce the topic of racism into the classroom setting. Currently, in-depth conversations about race are few and far between in most classes, so further implementation of these types of lessons will be incredibly beneficial and informative to much of the student body.

“There are students that feel like there are missed opportunities in our curriculum to talk about racism and bias,” Heckert said. “Not only from a historical context but also to make the connection to our community and the impact it can have.”

One way administration is trying to confront these issues is through monthly advisory periods within students’ homeroom classes. In addition, there are a plethora of student groups and clubs working to improve the perception of race and diversity within WCHS. Through their dedication, they hope to increase awareness of many issues and start new conversations as well.

“We are focused on addressing the hate that occurs in this school, as well as creating a safe and open environment where all students feel welcome,” senior Hannah Wodajo said. “This year, we did in-class powerpoint presentations during classes that all students take, like English. That way, we could raise awareness and hold discussions about the problems occurring in our school to a large amount of the student body.”

As students of WCHS, it is our responsibility to stand up to adversity in our lives, regardless of how it presents itself. In this situation, we must speak out against injustice when we see it and remember to remain aware of the impact that our actions have on others.

“We have so many things to celebrate and be thankful for,” Heckert said. “I am hoping from this and other incidents comes a positivity campaign, and that our student body becomes more of a community with pride.”

While the WCHS community is full of diverse people with unique opinions and perspectives, this should not be used as tool to divide and segregate us. By seeing our differences as something worth valuing, rather than ignoring, we can collectively move past this incident of hatred and ignorance.

“We have to respect one another, and not only accept what makes us different, but celebrate it,” Heckert said. “I feel we are so fortunate to be a part of this community and we need to see beyond ourselves.”

Ultimately, regardless of the outcome and effectiveness of these future plans, it is important to remember that the WCHS community should not be filled with hate, and that bigotry and racism have no place within the walls of this school.

“The best thing students can do is be respectful towards one another,” Wodajo said. “That way, everyone can feel welcome and comfortable here. If someone unknowingly does something offensive or hurtful, they should take that opportunity to learn, grow and not repeat the same offense again.”