Ferguson’s impact on Kirkwood
May 24, 2016
With new courses, meetings about racial inequities and a Black History Month Museum, KSD has made in effort to address the the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri by educating students along with staff.
“Our students here at KHS have all been impacted by Ferguson, just some more directly than others,” Maddy Raimondo, social studies teachers, said.
This fall, Raimondo began teaching a course on race called the Africa to America Experience. This course allows students to not only write, but discuss racial issues within a community in order to learn its impact African-American identity as a whole. Since the course has been offered, students have managed to have their voices heard even outside the classroom which wouldn’t have been an option if the the unrest in Ferguson hadn’t take place.
“[Ferguson was] not the only reason, but it made me realize it was important for our community to understand our history and the systems in place that led to the unrest, and to have those uncomfortable conversations,” Raimondo said.
According to Ramaindo, her class has educated the KHS students about racial inequalities. The North Kirkwood Middle School (NKMS) students have done the same in a different way.
“NKMS has been creating a Black History Month Museum for years now, but this year the museum was really student based, which helped spread awareness to the racial issues that clearly have not completely gone away,” Ganeen Burks, eighth grader at NKMS, said.
According to Burks, Voluntary students of NKMS spent a countless number of times last Febuary into the school’s annual Black History Month Museum that wrapped around the entire campus. The museum contained a balance of positive and negative aspects of African-American identity from art, books and soul food, to the unarmed faces of black men and women who have been victims of police brutality.
“A times it was hard for all of us, but in the end everything paid off. I remember leaving school that day with a smile on my face that I’ll never forget,” Ganeen said.
While Ferguson unrest was one of the motives for student’s involvement, Ganeen hopes that next year students will continue to participate in the Black History Month Museum. Ganeen feels students participation really makes a helps difference in their community, whether they realize it or not.
Just by getting staff members to listen to their students, change has been made. Not only for the students who live in Kirkwood or the city, but with the kids who reside in the Riverview District as well. Every Thursday while most students are at lunch with their friends, the Riverview students are KHS are meeting up to speak on racial issues around them.
“We just wanted to provide an opportunity for kids from Riverview to have a voice,” Tom Gaither-Ganim, counselor, said. “It was really overdue, and [KHS Staff] really should’ve started [the meetings] when they first arrived, yet we didn’t. The Ferguson situation help us realize that kids adjusting to this district are probably needing to talk. I feel that the groups have been really positive and it’s really just us getting to know our students more feels really good.”
Although the Riverview meeting began this year, Gaither-Ganim said the students feel much more bonded and attached to KHS rather than feeling separate from KHS. Since the meetings have started, it’s allowed for students who reside in the Riverview district to feel welcomed according to Gaither-Ganim.
“Once you put more love and good energy into the mix, things get better. We just have to provide an opportunity to come together and that’s just the bottom line,” Gaither-Ganim said.