Below you will find a letter that we shared with our students this week.
Schalmont High School is a microcosm of our society. And just like across our nation today, a lively, and sometimes passionate, dialogue is happening in our school among students regarding the current political climate. As educators, we encourage the exchange of ideas in a respectful manner. To that end, we shared the letter below with our students in hopes of creating an environment that encourages open discussions on viewpoints, while continuing to foster a community in which everyone at Schalmont feels safe and respected while doing so.
We also wanted to let you know about a few of the things that we have been doing as a building in response to some of these conversations.
Since last year, we have been identified as a "No Place for Hate" school as designated by the Anti-Defamation League. To be recognized as such, we have taken part in trainings for staff and students, have signed the No Hate Pledge and have continued meetings to provide a forum for students to celebrate diversity and promote respect for all groups. Also, like all schools in New York State, we follow the the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). This act provides us clear guidelines and procedures for protecting the rights of all students. Additionally, we have taken the added step of working in partnership with the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission. Their executive director, Angelicia Morris, has been visiting our campus for the last two years, working in our building, visiting classrooms and speaking with students.
While hope that these and future steps will continue to provide a safe space for all students in our high school, we also encourage you to talk to your children about these issues and how it may impact your child. If you have any suggestions, or questions, please feel free to contact the main office in regards to these programs.
Dear Schalmont High Students,
This has been an unprecedented school year in terms of political and social changes that our nation has faced. As a result, many of you have become involved in politics and current events, an interest we highly support.
Currently, there are Schalmont students who do not feel welcome in our nation, our community, and, unfortunately, our school. These students feel that their personal beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, and lifestyles will not be protected under our new national leadership. Conversely, we also have students who feel that some of the new legislative policies are making significant and positive changes in our country.
Schalmont High School is a “No Place for Hate” school. We intend to remain that way. ALL of you are an integral part of Schalmont. Your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, socio-economic status and political views will be respected. You have the right to be who you are, you have a right to feel safe in your school, and you should feel free discussing, advocating and educating others about your perspectives in a respectful manner.
So how do we as a school, have an exchange of ideas and perspectives while creating an environment that is safe and conducive for learning? We think the answer is simple: kindness, compassion and consideration for all.
High school can be a key time in your life to learn about others and form your own beliefs. Having respectful dialogue and discussions in the proper forums at the proper times with differing viewpoints can have a tremendous and positive impact on our building. While we will not always agree, learning and hearing from different perspectives can be the first step in understanding one another, a key factor in existing together.
While some of us may discuss these issues as simply matters of policy, to others, it impacts family, their personal identity and deeply held beliefs. Because we have students so personally impacted by the issues we are facing, we ask all of you to be aware of your surroundings, be compassionate of those around you and mindful of the appropriate time and place for political discussions. We also ask that if teachers ask to stop political conversations that prove disruptive, or provide ground rules around that type of discourse, that those requests are followed.
In expressing our viewpoints and perspectives, we expect everyone to practice kindness, compassion and consideration. We have the utmost faith in your ability as students to develop into great leaders, thinkers, and the future of our nation. Our hope is to be a part of that development as we help instill in each of you the need for compassion, and the importance of how we treat one another.
Schalmont High School Staff