On Monday, January 16, which was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a handful of North Springs students decided to take the day off from school and attend the No Place for Hate Summit sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.
North Springs, being the only Fulton County school in attendance, was encouraged to attend after the students held a Black Lives Matter protest last September. After the protest, North Springs Principal Michael Hanson put together a group of students to try to figure out how to fix the racial tensions in the school. These students were chosen based on various criteria. First, they had to represent the diversity of the school by coming from different backgrounds and grade levels. Second, the had to be visible in the school through having a large peer group and/or being active in many different activities to use as a sounding board and message tool. Third, the selected students had to be of great character and be able to represent the values of North Springs. The committee met once every two weeks with Mr. Hanson and members of the North Springs governance board.
Hanson invited everyone in the group, as well as a few new additions that he wanted to make to the committee, to the summit. It was hosted at the Breman Museum and representatives from 16 other schools attended. There were Jewish day schools, Christian private schools, schools on the South side, schools in Suwanee, and many more. Peer-led workshops were held throughout the day, and were centered around race, identity, stereotypes, and much more. “We are considering doing many of the programs here, at North Springs, to make progress on fixing these issues.” says Hanson.
North Springs was the only school in attendance that was not yet a “No Place For Hate” school. If the governance board decides it should become one of these schools, North Springs will institute and run activities that were created by No Place For Hate, which would include the activities from the summit. By the end of the day, it became apparent that North Springs is on its way to a becoming a safer place for students to express their racial identity and is trying to fix the issues surrounding racism in the school building once and for all.