The Voice of Wakefield High School

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Positivity Project initiated to bring students together

The+Positivity+Project++targets+Wakefield%27s+diverse+student+body.
The Positivity Project  targets Wakefield's diverse student body.

The Positivity Project targets Wakefield's diverse student body.

Staff Photo by Chase Cofield

Staff Photo by Chase Cofield

The Positivity Project targets Wakefield's diverse student body.

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On May 30 of 2017, four students hung up a sign and a teddy bear by its neck on the main building of Wakefield High School. This act brought up long-buried emotions about racism and prejudice to the surface. Some students felt both fearful and angry to belong to a school that would now be known for such an act. Some students felt attacked and shocked that something like this could happen so close to home.  Others felt like it was just another senior prank, a joke, with no racial intent behind it. Students and administration alike have been working to help soothe the tension built from this event since last year.

Jasmine Alston, counselor and advisor for the Black Student Union is focused on bridging the gap between students. As a counselor, she heard the worries and concerns of many students after the incident. As BSU advisor she is actively helping the student body learn about their fellow students regardless of race.

“If we’re united as a staff, students and school, no one will want to hurt each other because we’ll be connected,””

— Alston

said Alston. “That’s what we’re working for this year– building that unity so we won’t hurt each other.”

This event at Wakefield seems to mirror the political scene going on around the country. With President Trump making controversial comments, the events of Charlottesville, and the most recent topic of kneeling during the national anthem, people are talking more about race than ever before. Nowadays some students are so focused on the negativity of the media that they end up bringing it into school, consequently decreasing their own productivity.

“We are not teaching students to be good people,” Assistant Principal Anson Robinson said, “We have to worry about test scores, graduation rates, getting students into college, which are important. But just teaching etiquette, how to be cordial and respectful, and treating people the way you want to be treated, [is what is] missing from the youth of today since they are being raised by shows, music, videos and social media.”

Students such as senior Meredith Howell, President of the Black Student Union, believe that starting conversations about race and equality are very significant.

“[Students]  are more concerned with what’s going on and more people see that what we [the BSU] do is necessary,” Howell said.

Robinson laid out the administrative plan for implementing a new program called the Positivity Project. This program was created exclusively for freshmen and focuses on teaching and interpreting character traits by applying it to reality. The Positivity Project was enacted specifically because of the senior prank–to make the upcoming class become conscious about the consequences of their actions.

“[It] makes me go into a solemn mood because there are so many students that are in need and who want to do [the] right thing, but they just don’t know how,” Robinson said, referencing the need to implement such a program as The Positivity Project.

The incident made many people in the Wakefield community realize that perhaps Wakefield was not as united as it ought to be, which is why working continuously to improve as an educational environment is so important. Students, like senior Benton Haney, realize that our school is not perfect but are still proactively trying to change in their own way.  

“If you really want to have progress,” Haney said, “people [need] talk about their feelings before an incident like this happens because it will create much more thought-out opinions.”

Programs like the Positivity Project engage students helping them to become more socially aware and create a safe place where students of all races can connect.

“We’re having our first BSU meeting [October 3rd ],” Alston said. “We’ll focus on bridging the gap by not  focusing on what happened, but by doing inclusive things for the student body instead.”

Howell reinforces the necessity to come together as a community and fight prejudice and discrimination in all forms.

“Ultimately, we need to be open and sensitive to actual diversity,” Howell said. “That’s why we should be more aware, or at least attempt, to find some sort of racial-sensitivity.”

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The Voice of Wakefield High School
Positivity Project initiated to bring students together