Wakefield to Me inspires student body


Staff Photo by Allie Mariotte

Messiejah Bradley Junior, Isaiah Willett Senior, and a friend enjoy discussions in America To Me Club.

Wakefield High School is one of the most diverse schools in the state. 50 percent of enrolled students are of color.  The school’s newest forum for open discussion, Wakefield to Me, plans to give these students a voice.

“I feel like some certain topics get thrown under the bus like white privilege and how this poses a disadvantage for black people so I feel like it should be talked about and brought up,” senior Marzhane Pruitt said.

Every Wednesday during SMART lunch, the club meets up to watch an episode of the ten-part documentary series that inspired Wakefield to Me called America to Me. The goal for the watch group and being part of the national campaign is to make a plan for equity here at WHS, a plan made by the students for the admin and staff in the 19-20 school year. The documentary follows students, teachers and administrators at Oak Park and River Forest High in Chicago–a suburban high school very similar to Wakefield. The series delves into the experiences of the racially diverse student population, sparking conversations about what has, and what has not succeeded in the quest to achieve racial equity and overcome bias in education.

Racial division in education has been an ever-growing concern for those who want equity. Especially since 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled voluntary school integration plans unconstitutional, paving the way for contemporary school segregation to escalate. That is why not only students that have been eager to start Wakefield to Me, but teachers as well.

We want to let students have a place they can share their experiences and talk about certain situations”

— Willett

“Our disproportionality in the achievement gap is persistent, it’s still there. While we were looking at equity as a district in different ways, we definitely felt like this would be a way to engage the students and staff in a community dialogue,” Assistant Principal Michelle Gordon said.

Educators have been able to predict if a student from third grade will graduate or not based on race and gender. America to Me has persuaded many to take action by making itself a national campaign. Wake County, along with many other school districts, will be joining to facilitate “watch groups”, with a common goal for students to create an equity plan after they have watched all ten episodes of the documentary.

“We want to let students have a place they can share their experiences and talk about certain situations,” junior Isaiah Willett said.

The club is a safe space that anyone is welcome to be a part of. Members want students and teachers to understand and mutually respect one another through America to Me and tough conversations about racism. Ultimately, they want to incite change. Their motto is “Be the change you want to see!” a powerful statement that everyone can take to heart.

“It’s something that needs to be spoken about. So many people feel like they cannot speak up about certain things that go on at school because they are scared or feel like they will not be heard,” junior Messiah Bradley said.

Staff Photo by Allie Mariotte
Students participate in America To Me Club.