GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Days after a video was posted on social media of students at a Jenison High School basketball making monkey sounds and gestures at a Black player, the school said it is having conversations with students and staff about the “hurtful” situation.
In an email sent to families, Superintendent Brandon W. Graham said that on Monday, the school took time to discuss personal and collective character with its students.
“We don’t want to miss the bigger opportunity to pause and learn, heal, and grow through this as a community,” an email to parents read.
At the TK-4th Grade levels, the district said it “continued regular, intentional instruction about how character is essential in everything we do. As usual, we matched our read-aloud books with our monthly Wildcat Way character traits and other activities.”
For 5th and 6th grade students, the district discussed how classrooms are places for respectful, healthy dialogue.
“Specifically, we addressed Friday’s incident, the stereotypes used, and why these actions were offensive, dehumanizing, and hurtful. We discussed how integrity, respect, and empathy are essential in how we represent ourselves and our school in the community,” the email to parents said.
For junior and senior high school students, assemblies were held Monday morning with students and staff as well as a special online homeroom session for JIA.
“We reinforced what it means to be a Wildcat, what is expected in how we treat others, and what we will not tolerate as a school. Today, in Advisory classes, staff-led conversations with students about how to learn and grow through this together,” the email said.
The district said that on Sunday afternoon, a group of high school student representatives, staff and administrators held a meeting to discuss the overall school culture, how race and diversity play a role and how the school community can do better.
“This is important work, and we need to have conversations that take a close look at where we are and who we want to be as a district. True healing and growth take place through intentionality and transparency, and we are committed to following this through as we move into the New Year,” the email said.