By Ingrid Lackey- Howell, intern reporter
“What should students, teachers and community members do to acknowledge and confront individual and systemic racism in our schools and community?”
That will be the question posed to those who sign up for an online community discussion created by Harwood students. The event will take place over Zoom on Thursday, April 29, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. The organizers would really like to see HUUSD students of all ages and their parents at the event as well as local community members.
How does one register for this event? An infographic with links to the registration form was put in a recent Parent Newsletter, TA announcements in school and sent out to all the teachers. It is also on the Harwood Union High School website.
Students from a class called “Dialogues on Race” designed, refined and conceived this event. Because of this year’s new schedule, the class is only six weeks long. There are many new temporary classes, or “flex blocks,” offered to students this year during their free blocks. Dialogues on Race is one of these new classes.
Students were surveyed about what they want to learn and discuss during the class, and lesson plans were then created to suit the student’s interests. The class is very much discussion-based. The students would watch a film or read a book with the common theme of race and then discuss it. Hence the name Dialogues on Race. When the class was asked if they’d be interested in putting on a community dialogue, they unanimously agreed.
The class mostly consists of underclassmen with over 20 students. Maia George and Sophie Krotinger are two juniors who co-teach the class with teachers Kathy Cadwell, Jonah Ibson and Matt Henchen.
“It's been great co-teaching a class. It shows me the importance of helping educate others about issues I care deeply about and gives me some perspective about what it's like to teach,” said Krotinger.
George and Krotinger created the registration sheet for all who sign up. Future participants will be asked for an email address, other Harwood discussions they may have been involved in and why they’re interested in joining.
What will be the format of the event? A Zoom link will be sent out promptly at 5 p.m., one hour before the event. First, there will be introductions from members of the Dialogues on Race class. Co-teachers Maia George and Sophie Krotinger will be the formal hosts of the event. Then the whole group will be split up into break-out rooms, each with a student or teacher facilitating the conversation. “We want some actionable ideas,” said Ibson.
Because of the subject matter, the question was shown to the local BIPOC Affinity group by Ibson. There was one criticism. Originally, the word “confront” was “combat.” Ibson said the individual who pointed that out knew the class meant nothing negative by the phrasing, but they suggested they change it to “confront.” They thought the word “combat” looked strange next to the word “individual.”
“This is a dialogue where we are asking people to talk about a question that really matters. We know we can’t solve the problem. We know we are a group of predominantly white people that has a lot to learn about race and class, but it takes a lot of courage for these kids to say ‘We want to talk about this together to begin the process of educating ourselves and working toward making the world, certainly Vermont, a more equitable place,” said Cadwell.