Students learn tolerance at NCCJ conference

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

High school students from across Guilford County gathered recently to talk about what they could do to make their schools better.

The National Conference for Community & Justice of the Piedmont Triad recently hosted the Youth Leadership Conference at North Carolina A&T State University. The 222 high schoolers and peer ambassadors discussed how to improve their school climate to close the achievement gap.
“A safe school environment — one where everyone is treated with respect, where everyone’s potential is recognized — is crucial to closing the achievement gap in our schools,” said Susan Feit, NCCJ executive director. “Our youth are our future. It’s our responsibility to harness their energy and teach them how to lead the way in improving the climate in their schools, for the good of our larger community.”
High Point Central and the Middle College at GTCC Jamestown and High Point campuses were a part of the discussion.
NCCJ stands on the platform of asking students how they can fight bias, bigotry and racism in the schools and to build inclusive environments.
“The things we heard were that it’s clear that students know they should not judge people by what they look like and that they want to learn more about being a change agent,” Feit said.
During the conference, the students measured the climate of their school by answering questions like, “Are you being singled out for race or poverty?” If kids are being judged, it’s usually based on class, Feit said.
“It’s amazing what the strength is of these students coming together and talking peer-to-peer,” she said. “You can talk in abstract terms about bigotry and racism, but when they talk with peers and have specific examples, that’s when the rubber hits the road and it’s relevant to them in 2013.”
Feit said creating leaders among the 72,000 Guilford County Schools students frees up the educators to teach and build a better school community.
“Never underestimate student leadership, Feit said. “That’s how our students can succeed.”
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