Promote Change through Listening

Jacob Taylor, Editor-In-Cheif

You can feel it when you walk in the front doors. A girl screams her opinion in another’s face. People whisper behind her back. A man pulls the raging boy off of the boy with the outspoken attire. You can’t hide from it. It’s in the hallways, it’s in the classrooms, and it’s online. Every teacher, student, and faculty member knows it’s there. Rather than trying to confront the issue, members of the school continue their daily routine pretending as if everything is okay.

Our school has been in constant turmoil during the last few weeks, and it has created an increased amount of tension among students.

When multiple students wore the Confederate flag to school and spoke anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, it sparked a frenzy of posts on social media.That afternoon a large group of students went to the district building and spoke with Superintendent Dr. Judith DeMuth. That same day, the Confederate flag was banned from North for causing a disturbance of our education at a significant level.

The next day was even more turbulent.Throughout the week, almost every conversation between students, teachers, and administrators revolved around the issue of free speech, hate speech, and the current use of the Confederate flag. Social media was riddled with cyberbullying from people on both sides of the issue and violent fights were ignited between students at school. It seemed like there was little the administration could do to end the senseless behavior.

The craziness seemed to dwindle for a week or two, but the closer Election Day got, the higher tensions grew. Supporters of both presidential candidates threw insults at each other without bothering to listen to the other side. Finally, students got a break from the hostile environment our school on Nov. 8, 2016.

When students returned to school after Election Day, the building was eerily quiet. Once again, our school was divided. Clinton supporters mourned their candidate’s loss, and Trump supporters’ hopes for change grew. Clinton supporters felt that with a Trump presidency their individual rights and liberties would be taken away and were scared for their future. Trump supporters believed that the government would finally begin to listen to the voice of the people who for so long had been disenfranchised with the political process.

While these two events clearly illustrate the division in our school, the divide is always present. Our school has always prided itself on being diverse, but the diverse members of our school are segregated. They’re segregated by race, by sex, and by socioeconomic class. When you walk through the school cafeteria it’s easy to see this separation. Students sit with their friends who most often come from very similar backgrounds. They’ll be the same race, the same gender, and the same socioeconomic class. There is very little intermingling between the groups, which makes it difficult for students to understand each other.

Our students need more experience with different types of people, and when we’re in a diverse setting, students should actively try to understand each other. I encourage students to step out of there comfort zones and intermingle with different people then they are used to interacting with. When discussing controversial topics, students should work to listen and respect every opinion shared.

I’m proud that many students have spoken out in an effort to make changes. However, in the future students should come at it in a different way. Before we can have real change, we must be able to listen to and respect one another’s opinions and be capable of separating personal opinion from meaningful discussion.

Teachers: create safe places for meaningful discussions, and collaborate amongst yourselves. The future depends on how you work to inspire your students.

Students: keep speaking out, keep promoting change, but stop tuning out other’s concerns. Without hearing contradictory opinions there can be no progress. We must learn to listen to each other and appreciate our differences.