Planned March Ends in Conversation

Marandah Mangra-Dutcher, Editor-in-Chief

Students and community members gathered around the entrance to the middle school on June 26 in order to protest the district’s reaction towards recent events. The event was arranged and shared via social media.  People shared two screenshots as a digital flyer on their Instagram and Snapchat stories to promote the event.

The first screenshot included three pictures of tweets from the Twitter account @DragonNation1 that event organizers and other community members have found to be offensive. This screenshot also included the time and location of the event as well an an image of a raised fist, the national symbol the Black Lives Matter Movement has taken on. The second screenshot listed five demands created by the person who made the original digital flyer. Some of these demands included hiring minority teachers and staff, addressing ways the Confederate Flag has been displayed on school grounds by students, and how the administration can better address racism and diversity within the district.

The Twitter account @DragonNation1 is independently run by students to share their thoughts and opinions about sports and other school functions. The account does not speak for administration, as made clear by their Twitter biography that reads, “Not Affiliated with JHS or JCSD.” 

Approximately 50 people attended the event including seven members of administration and three police officers. There were many current students, alumni, parents and other community members who were also in attendance. A majority of those at the event wore masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which was advertised as a march, began with two parties, the administration and the attendees.

The two parties stood on separate sides of the school’s front entrance, but with communication headed by the three police officers in attendance, the two parties came together to start a discussion. “What I am happy about is that it wasn’t just a march, it was a dialogue,” Superintendent Laura Kacer said.

Some of those in attendance agreed. “I thought that was great,” Bria Cox ’21, a student, said. “It feels like we at least made the faculty aware that the students aren’t happy with the way things are, and it seems like conversations with the school board are being set up as well.”

However, others who attended were not pleased with the turn of events. “I just feel we’ve had this conversation over and over and over again,” Ethan Ung ’20 said. “And we’re tired of talking, we need action.”

The discussion addressed demands from the digital flyer shared on social media including how the district plans to address @DragonNation1, creating more diversity in district staff and how the Confederate Flag is displayed by students on school grounds. Discussions about changes to curriculum and how to better teach parents and students about racism also occurred.  

The event ended after each administration member in attendance shared a statement. “I’m glad that they were here,” Kacer said in an interview after the event. “There’s a lot of emotion and I understand that and I think this is a really good place for us to begin better dialogue going forward. I hear them, my heart hurts for some of the things I heard today. We don’t want a place or a school where people feel they don’t belong or that something happens to them and it doesn’t get fixed. So I take that as a personal job one. I need to make sure we’re helping kids who feel like they are not a part of our system.”