by Nelson Cummiskey, with Oracle Staff Reporters Dream Nelson, Jessie Reyes, and Makayla Scerbo
Despite the difficulties of an emotionally charged day after a series of racial slurs made in an online Snapchat, North Springs students and faculty assemble together to declare, “This does not define us.”
November 3 — North Springs has long been proud of its reputation for diversity and acceptance; today the students and staff came together to prove that its reputation is justified.
In a series of assemblies held on November 3, Principal Hanson addressed the recent incident concerning a racially charged Snap Chat group that was released on the Internet. All grade levels were divided up and discussed the incident.
The assembly started with Mr. Hanson talking to the students first as a principal, then just as Scott, as just a person. He talked about how the student body need not to worry about the specific consequences of the incident, but instead how to move forward from it, which was acted upon immediately when reported. He also used the assembly time to give students the floor to address staff and faculty in a serious, candid, and sometimes emotional display of feelings and fellowship, despite the negativity of the past day’s events.
In one of the assemblies, Mr. Hanson stressed that he did not want to have a small group of students define what the school was. He stressed that he didn’t want the school to dwell on the negativity, but work to ensure that the student body could move forward and prevent such an incident again.
Mr. Hanson expressed how the words on Snapchat were used “as a division tool” that created visible anger amongst the school. He also stressed his own disappointment. “We have spent a lot of time talking about how we are diverse, and we didn’t show that.”
Mr. Hanson then gave the class presidents the floor; one gave a speech about her experiences and thoughts on this matter, as did another student body leader. After the student leaders spoke, they handed the microphone over to students in the audience so that they could put their thoughts together and address the issues.
Students of all colors spoke on how they felt about the incident. Some talked about how many friends they had of all different backgrounds and others talked about personal experiences. The overall gist of what all the students thought was that these kids did something stupid and hateful, but that the school needed to overcome this because the great thing about North Springs is the students. The message was clear: We can’t let a few individuals create a narrative of hate for our school.
In the sophomore assembly, many spoke positively, despite the expectations of many walking in expecting to hear hate-riddled speeches. The students felt strongly about North Springs and their future here. Most spoke of loving and respecting one another because all were equal. One girl even used the phrase, “You bleed red, I bleed red; we’re the same.” After that, it seemed as if the tone of the whole assembly shifted. The students and faculty all saw that no one wanted North Springs to be known as a place of hate, but as a school of diversity with a majority of minorities who had a bright future and who must work hard to not let ignorance keep it down.
In the junior assembly it was surprising to see how every student casually walked in without reacting negatively like past assemblies where students listened but were not given the floor. This assembly was very well organized; President Hanson knew how to handle this situation. He respectively expressed his opinion but also expressed his perspective about the hurting side. Students were encouraged to express their emotions to the fullest and to have the ability to not feel left out in any way.
One student expressed her frustration about how she wished the students who were involved in the situation should be at the assembly to hear the message that the principal and everyone else were giving. This caused many to react in a manner that showed their agreement. The feeling conveyed was that those students needed to feel remorseful about their actions.
Something else that caught people’s emotions was when another student expressed how the students who were involved were her friends; she believe that she was accepted and her skin color didn’t define their friendship but after seeing events unfold, she had a different perspective about them.
Many students mentioned how blessed they are to attend North Springs for being diverse and giving them the right to have a beneficial education to take along their career path. One teacher who was invited to speak expressed how the student body should continue speaking up about what’s right or wrong to defend what we believe.
Near the end, Principal Hanson expressed how diverse and united the school appeared recently when rooting for a student who was encouraged to dance at the homecoming pep rally. That day, everyone stood for him and cheered without a care. Mr. Hanson observed how at many places, students might have laughed, but that event drew a clear impression of how North Springs’ true caring nature.
The ending message warmed many hearts. It is a sign of hope that we can continue expressing what we believe in openly while knowing in our hearts what’s right and wrong.