In response to student concerns over events in Ferguson, with the shooting of Michael Brown, Staten Island, and the death of Eric Garner, and Cleveland-the shooting of Tamir Rice, Eastern Christian High School organized two opportunities for students to gather and ask questions/share perspectives.
As a result of those two meetings, teachers Paul Beverly, Alisa Engelhard, along with Jeff Botbyl invited a group of students (Jessica Barna, Sebastian Pierre, Wade Johnson, Stephanie Avila, Kimona Dussard, and Maggie Albies) to plan a follow up.
The followup became a “social justice morning”, in which 20 students chose to gather and consider some of the difficult issues raised by these tragedies. The overall focus was to help students think about how reconciliation and renewal works in the face of anger and division.
We invited a number of guests to help us do just that:
Mr. Jeff Botbyl, EC Athletic Director Asst. as well as Passaic County Sheriff’s Officer–speaking on police training and perspective
Mr. Anthony Johnson, EC parent and reporter for WABC TV news–speaking about the media’s role in these types of situations
Mrs. Theadora Lacey – she knew Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was a pastor in Montgomery, AL. (More about Theadora Lacey here)
Mrs. Minnie White & Eric White–former EC parent and student, along with Wade Johnson, current EC junior – in a panel on how some of the issues related to race have changed over time.
After a morning of conversation and challenge, the student committee is planning a “What Now” session-how do we as students in a Christian school help rebuild community? They are looking at some possible service projects as a followup.