Students speak out, hold forum on racial equality


Ben Schneider

Students holding a discussion and forum in the auditorium after walking out.

On May 13, students walked out and participated in an open forum and discussion in the auditorium in support of racial equality.

The forum was a response to an incident that occurred in the building on May 11. 

Sophomore Micah Henderson was one of the students who spoke at the front of the room during the discussion about the topic of police brutality. 

“The big issue going back years, we have seen things happen with people of the black color or African-American or colored people,” Henderson said. “We have seen them and white cops. We’ve seen it on the news, we’ve seen it in so many cases. It’s been a hashtag, Black Lives Matter, all this time.”

Principal John Phillips emphasizes that the school can not sponsor, support or facilitate a protest or walk out, but he is always willing to listen to students’ concerns. 

“In those situations, I really look at how, as a school principal, can I provide my students with an appropriate platform to voice their concerns and share them with me,” Phillips said. “What I did was offer an opportunity during lunches for students to express any concerns to me that they might have had.”

Henderson feels that the forum was a way for the students to speak out against racism and racial profiling. She appreciates that the administration offered them a way to voice their concerns but wants the school or the county to address the situation further. 

“[There’s] a lot that needs to be taken up with the school board or the higher-ups or whoever, letting them know that the students are speaking out against it,” Henderson said.

Phillips agrees that students should be able to express their feelings, especially about a school-related issue.

“If students are bringing a concern to me, then my job is to figure out how do I address it,” Phillips said. “I feel like it’s important that students understand that they’re always going to be seen and heard by adults in this building. We will sometimes have differences but … my hope is that we can work together to come to those resolutions.”

The students, including senior Victoria Dunham-Quigley, emphasized the importance of protest and free speech at the forum.

“My race is not a hashtag,” Dunham-Quigley said. “Never has been, never will be .. [racism] happens in schools all around the country. I know it’s not easy, coming out and saying what you’re saying and protecting your rights. But just know that you have a right to do that. There’s nothing wrong with coming out here and standing up for what you believe in.”

The students discussed a variety of topics related to race in America, including their desire for the end of racial stereotypes.

“We’re in 2022,” Hayes said. “We’re better than this. It’s not ok. We all need to come together and stop.”