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Community Message- June 3, 2020

on June 3, 2020

Dear Members of the Warwick Valley CSD Community,

As I watch the unsettling and tragic events unfold throughout the country, and listen to the unrest and fears our students and their families convey during these times, it is difficult to author just the right message. With that said, I will begin with a simple yet important reminder to our students. You are valued! You are loved! You are safe! You are expected to succeed! Your futures are bright! And together, we will make this world, community, and school district a better place.  

These unsettling times hold the promise for an increased sense of belonging in our community, affirming all identities. Yet, this promise will remain unrealized if we turn a blind eye to offensive words and actions. Many community members recently viewed a disturbing social media post containing racial epithets and threatening targeted violence against a home(s) in Warwick. This matter is under investigation by both the Warwick Town Police and our District. This investigation remains a top priority, and we’re hopeful that it will conclude shortly. I can assure you that if this message is determined to have been posted by a Warwick student, we will take strong disciplinary action. The District will not tolerate hateful and discriminatory speech and threats of violence or violence.  If we are going to progress as a country or school community, we must confront racism — in all of its forms — every day. 

Our students pay close attention to the world around them. They develop ideas and views about race through many sources, including social media, literature, music, interactions with peers, parents, teachers, and the news. These interactions help to mold who they become and the actions and decisions they make each day. They are eager to talk to their peers and adults about these topics. We must provide them with the tools needed to understand race and racism. As educators, we promise to listen to our students so that we can know their questions, concerns, fears, or anxieties about race. For many, conversations about this topic are hard to have, but we must have them. The classroom often serves as a venue to thoughtfully and purposely facilitate these conversations. While the pandemic presents additional challenges to holding these conversations in school, it will not serve as a barrier to supporting our students. Please reach out to our teachers, counselors, and support staff if we can be of assistance. I encourage families to consider the resources listed at the end of this letter. 

Moving forward, positive actions speak louder than words. Anticipate further enhancements to our curriculum, instruction, and professional development plans as we educate faculty, staff, and children to be active participants in a diverse democracy. As a community, children need to know that they are valued and that we will not tolerate racism, discrimination, or intolerance in any form. Education is the key to young people challenging prejudice and learning how to be agents of positive change.

Sincerely,

David Leach 

Parents:

Article from the Raising Race Conscious Children Website: 100 Race Conscious Things to Say to Your Child to Advance Racial Justice

Article from USA Today: George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

Article from the Teaching Tolerance website: Speak Up! 

 

The Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for 2019 

  • Elementary school winner and honoree:

–   The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Justby Mélina Mangal, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Millbrook Press)

–   Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret Schoolby Janet Halfman, illustrated by London Ladd (Lee and Low Books)

  • Middle school winner and honoree;

–   America Border Culture Dreamer: The Young Immigrant Experience from A to Zby Wendy Ewald (Little, Brown and Co.)

–   So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedomby Gary Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter (Roaring Brook Press)

  • Secondary school winner and honoree:

–   A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919by Claire Hartfield (Clarion Books)

–   Attucks! Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team That Awakened a Cityby Phillip Hoose (Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers)

 

 

 

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