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Why Wayland Middle School Needs to Change by Vanessa Taxiarchis and Zuriya Lopes

Wayland Middle School has been experiencing ugly racism in the community. As a result this past week, this school has experienced students feeling unsafe in this environment. During the past couple days we have encountered some unacceptable events. We are speaking out to address these three incidents: racist videos going around, racist graffiti, and people taking big problems as a joke.  

On December 3rd, sadly two students had participated in a racist action. One of the two students held a BB gun to a wall while the other one walked in with a camera and referenced slavery. Later the video was posted on snapchat. The video got sent to many students. It strongly impacted the school because many students of color felt threatened and targeted. Luckily enough a brave community member sent the video along to the school’s principal. Principal Gavron and the police fully investigated the issue to protect the physical safety of our community. On Monday, the incident was shared with the whole school making students feel very uncomfortable. At school we had meetings about our feelings and what we were thinking. Because this meeting took place during our class time, the rooms included people wanting to skip class and not taking it seriously. Some teachers seemed like they weren’t bothered by anyone skipping class or by some of the students calling it a “free period,”  and continued on in the day. However, the meeting meant a lot to some people in the room.

After this event took place, some people thought it was a one time thing and everyone had learned their lessons. A couple days passed, and it was brought to Principal Gavron’s attention that there was a racist comment in the 8th grade girls’ bathrooms. As a result of this happening, the teachers took most students notebooks trying to find the handwriting. This wasn’t the only thing that the staff did for this investigation. They called all 8th graders down for a meeting with Dr. Easy, the Wayland Public Schools Superintendent. In addition to that, they called multiple people down to the office if they went to the bathroom at all during that hour or if they saw anything go down. The day ended and it had been a stressful day. But the day after that the boys 8th grade bathroom was vandalized with a racist word engraved into the wall. Some students started chatting in the halls making the situation bigger and saying some things that weren’t true – escalating the problem. This action was also reported to Principal Gavron right away but it wasn’t over. Our goal is to make sure everyone that comes to the school feels safe and comfortable.

Sadly enough after all of these events, some people in middle school still think it’s a joke, using the meetings as opportunities to skip classes and have fun. These meetings were held for the people that felt impacted by the video and felt unsafe in school. It is really disrespectful when the kids don’t care enough to stop laughing and take it seriously.  The school shouldn’t ever be a place for slurs or hurtful jokes.  Many students shared how they felt after the first incident and we thought it was a one time situation but it followed  into many more incidents not even 3 days after the 1st situation that happened. Many people felt hurt and couldn’t believe that something like this would ever happen in Wayland Middle School. Our community goes by the phrase “ B.E.R.T “ and that stands for Belonging, Empathy, Respect, Trust. That was truly broken when this happened. It made students feel like they didn’t belong and couldn’t trust any one and the respect was gone. With everything that is going on, we as 8th graders don’t want ANYTHING like this to happen to younger grades or in the future here at Wayland Middle School. 

Some people might think everyone should leave it alone and not give the people attention. However, if we all can come together as one then we can educate each other on what’s right and wrong.  No matter what color someone’s skin is, they are beautiful in every way. Scars, bruises, vilitalgo — YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and loved and no one should ever tell you differently.  “In all my work, what I try to say is that as human beings we are more alike than we are unlike.”  This quote was said by a poet named Maya Angelou. Just like our 8th grade mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she stood for what was right. I present this quote to you so that people can think about what it means. To my grade, I know we are capable of doing better so there is no reason not to. And to everyone that was affected by this event, I’m sorry. It’s not too late to change our actions and the way we respond to things. Black Lives Matter!

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