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02•25•10 news

soundtrack: “One” U2

09

art by Alex Rowe

Quoted African-American students who have enjoyed their time at Rock Canyon

“It is hard to come to a school being a minority, but Rock Canyon has been a place where I [may not feel] a hundred percent welcomed but mostly feel welcomed. “People don’t treat me horribly but maybe not as fair as the people who are not minorities.” –Brittany Hill ‘10

“I feel that I have been embraced into the Rock Canyon community.” “My peers sometimes act irresponsibly but it hasn’t reached an uncomfortable point. “I love white people!” –Chris Dixon ‘12 Compiled by Paige Hesen and Austin Frankel

Q&A

With Counselor Sheila Redler Rock : What should a student do if being harassed? Redler: “If someone says something you don’t like, whether it is sexual, racial, or something else offensive, the first step is to ask them to stop. “If you are being harassed the antagonist has to know it offends you for it to be filed as harassment. If it continues, talk to an adult, not just counseling, it can be anyone you are comfortable with. “When harassment is reported the assistant principal will confront the antagonist, [and will] decide what punishment is fitting. “The main thing to do is to let an adult know, possibly even your parents if you are most comfortable with them. As long as it is someone who can help, it’s just important to get help quickly to avoid the effects of bullying.” Compiled by Curtis Stuck

Being pushed out of the crowd

Rock Canyon’s African-American students experience a very different environment from their white counterparts. In honor of Black History Month we took a glimpse at what it is like for some students to look different from the crowd. For the most part, Americans like to believe that racism is dead. February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the progress of African-Americans. Even in the full swing of Black History Month racism is still present in society. Beyond the streets of Highlands Ranch and into our own school, racism remains as a common form of bullying and affects the lives of many students in our community. Two students in particular, have their own stories to tell about their experiences with racism at Rock Canyon.

Betrayed by a friend

In August 2007 Noni Campbell experienced her first day at RCHS. She was nervous, like any student would be walking down foreign hallways and seeing faces she had never met before. These faces though, as she watched from the corner of her eye, didn’t look as welcoming as she would have hoped. But she held her head up high, prayed for the best, and managed to survive the first day. The staring, though, became a daily routine; every passing period she could feel cold glares watching her as she walked from class to class. The whole first half of the semester went that way and Noni began to get the feeling that she wasn’t very welcome. Sure she had made a couple friends and met a few cute boys, but overall school wasn’t something she could call pleasant. But this was only the start of her problems, and until those first catty remarks were said, Noni thought the harassment would end at glares. “[The harassment] wasn’t ever anything physical. It was times when girls would say ‘oh you had to have got those jeans from a black store to fit that big of a booty’,” she said. “You know, little things like that.” It was strange to hear racism so openly, especially coming from a background of mixed race schools. So at first Noni wasn’t sure what to do. Her mind screamed to defend herself, to say at least something back, but she was shy and her mouth remained shut. “I wouldn’t say anything and would just take it. If I could do it over,” she said with a laugh. “I think I would have gotten into a fight, like everyday.” But as time went on and the comments got more racist, it became increasingly harder to hold all her frustrations in. Eventually she began to confide in her mother as a daily counselor. Every day after school, they would sit down and just talk. Noni would share her daily stories and her mother would give the best advice she could. “I remember sometimes the harassment was so bad

I would beg my mom ‘please, don’t make me go’ just because I was done with having to spend each and every day with [racist behavior]. I mean, who really wants to deal with that?” Skipping school became her only way out and her grades began to fall, from A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s. Her self-esteem wasn’t far behind, either. Eric Burrage, a childhood friend, noticed a difference in Noni’s morale after she moved to the school. “Noni became a lot more quiet and she always looked mad in the hallways,” he said, “like she hated being at Rock Canyon.” Things got progressively worse. She wanted to join the cheer team but was discouraged by other students and never tried out. But her breaking point came near homecoming. She was walking to the bus stop when a Jeep full of students, two boys and two girls, pulled up to her. At first she didn’t understand what they wanted, but then they began to taunt her. “They started yelling at me, ‘we hate you! We don’t want n***ers in this school!” she said bitterly. “That was when I decided that I really was done with it.” It wasn’t long after that Noni discovered the root of her problems. Surprisingly, it was a friend, who was really an enemy in disguise. “She was always saying racial slurs to my face, but I ignored it and just thought we were friends. But behind my back she was getting other people to start harassing me.” The Campbells involved the police and pressed charges on the girl. Despite the fact there was no other legal action taken, Noni still can feel the emotional scarring. “I’ve seen that girl, one time when I was with my boyfriend. I want to fight her in some ways.” Not much later, the Campbells decided it was in Noni’s best interest to leave Rock Canyon. She moved to Thomas Jefferson, where she has found success both socially and academically. “I have friends of all races now and we get along really well,” she said. “I mean I have Indian friends, an Ethiopian friend, [and] Asian friends.” And with a smile she said, “And all my grades are back up to A’s and B’s.” Now, when Campbell looks back at Rock Canyon, she sees all her troubles as a learning experience. “It makes me stronger because now I can help people who go through similar situations,” she said. But if she could do it all over, Noni wishes she would have never attended Rock Canyon. “Don’t get me wrong, its not like [RCHS] is a bad school. Actually it’s

got an amazing curriculum and it teaches kids [well]. But the students there can be very materialistic and I have been raised to not be a materialistic person.” Her advice for other students: “I tell them to just choose their battles because racism, no matter how much people say it is over, it isn’t. I know who I am, and what my upbringing is and it helps me stick to that.”

Square in the jaw

Robert Anderson dealt with racial diversity for the whole time he attended Rock Canyon. For Robert, being African-American was hard in a school like Rock Canyon, where he was part of a small number of black students. “I wanted to be around other people,” said Robert, “but I always felt singled out, like I could never completely connect with the other Canyon kids.” Being surrounded by racist jokes day after day didn’t help him either. In one of Robert’s classes his sophomore year, there was one student who continually shared racist jokes with the class; with African-Americans as the brunt of the jokes. At first Robert just laughed off the jokes, but it was not long before they began to get under his skin. A week later, the student from his class continued making racist jokes and Anderson could take no more. “He just kept joking about stereotypes of blacks,” Robert said, “and I had just been hearing it for so long and I was so sick of it, I just snapped.” He punched the student square in the jaw. What felt like years of racial insensitivity from his classmates had caused Robert to lash out with violence. The two wrestled, punched and kicked for about ten minutes before faculty members broke them up. Both Robert and the other student got suspended, but that didn’t bother Robert. “I was actually really proud of myself for finally standing up instead of taking it. I don’t regret it,” he said. “I was just so done with the crap.” But even though he felt somewhat better after the fight, the racial differences still affected Robert. At the beginning of his junior year, Robert transferred to Thomas Jefferson High School. “I just felt like it was more culturally diverse. It is a place where there are people like me, and I don’t have to be the minority or worry about being so different from everybody else. Dani Burrage and Taylor Pettaway

By the #s percentage of “White, Not 1475 TheRocktotalCanyonnumber of students at 88.2% TheHispanic” students at RC

percentage of “Hispanic” 4.8% Thestudents at RC

percentage of “Black, not 1.4% TheHispanic” students at RC (83.1% of surveyed students

percentage of “American .2% TheIndian or Alaskan Native” students at RC

percentage of “Asian or 5% ThePacifi c Islander”students at RC (33.6% of surveyed students perceived this correctly)

perceived this correctly)

(44.6% of surveyed students perceived this correctly)

of “American 4 TheIndiantotalornumber Alaskan Native” students at RC

total number of “White, 1302 Thenot Hispanic” students at RC


Issue 6 page 9