Earlier this year, RHS students, staff, and other members of the Ridgewood community discovered that the high school had been vandalized by hateful images. These images were swastikas and anti-black lives matter graffiti, the swastikas being found in two areas within the school and the anti-black lives matter graffiti being found in a boys bathroom. Since the finding of these images, RHS students and staff have reflected on what it means to be inclusive and foster a positive environment.
RHS student Musarrot states “It is scary to think that a place which I go to every day to learn also contains symbols of hate. It is important that the school addresses this issue immediately so students remain comfortable at school” in order to show how the images found are not only offensive to people of certain cultures, but also create feelings of discomfort and fear within innocent students who simply want to learn. If a school environment does not foster feelings of inclusivity and positivity then students will no longer feel comfortable to learn, and Musarrot’s statement asserts this. Furthermore, Musarrot’s statement displays how it is unnerving to go to school for more than 6 hours a day and the majority of the week at a place in which such hateful ideologies are given a role.
To address the issue and stop hateful ideologies from occurring at RHS, Superintendent of Schools Thomas A. Gorman sent out an email explaining that such acts of hate are not permitted in the Ridgewood Public Schools community. Gorman wrote, “Hate-based symbols and behaviors have no place in society or in our schools, and they are the antithesis of the core values of kindness, compassion, and citizenship that we hold dear and promote on a daily basis” to prove that Ridgewood is inclusive and positive, in schools as well as out of schools. Gorman further emphasizes this point when he writes “Throughout the educational experience in the Ridgewood Public Schools, students are exposed to curriculum, speakers, and programs about universal themes that foster empathy, nurture humanitarianism and promote a greater understanding of one another” to show what Ridgewood Public Schools are doing to educate students about the importance of treating people with inclusivity rather than with stereotypes and disrespect.
Though the finding of the swastikas and anti-black lives matter graffiti has brought up a major issue within RHS, as long as RHS students remain open-minded to learn more about the struggles which people of different cultures face, the school will be able to prevent any more issues regarding hate.
News Editor and Writer
Graphic: Jiah Lee