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NaugatuckHigh School

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Principal's Message: 1/26

Good evening families,

These past two days have been full of connections between students and teachers, and have been incredible opportunities for me and Mr. Montini to listen directly to students, as NHS tries to begin healing from the racially violent messages that were revealed last week. As they always do, our students rose to the occasion; during our open campus these past two mornings, students processed what they saw last week with trusted adults and allies across the school, created powerful expressions of emotion, and spoke truth to me and the Superintendent in our student forums. Today's walkout was peaceful, and marked by moving speeches from student leaders. Our students demonstrated everything we could have hoped for in advocating for change at NHS, and those calls will not go unheard.

I said over the weekend that these two days would be only the beginning of our healing process, and tonight, I want to share several concrete action steps that I will be taking, beginning immediately, in response to our students voices:

  • Scheduling monthly student equity forums, with the specific purpose of seeking out feedback from students on issues related to racial justice and racial equity at NHS
  • In collaboration with students, teachers, and our district curriculum director, conducting an audit of existing curricula in social studies and English courses to ensure that those curricula reflect the diverse range of student experiences at our school
  • With our curriculum director, accelerating the implementation of a Black and Latino Studies course
  • Forming a committee of students and teachers to develop an anti-racism charter which clearly defines our school's values, defines language and behaviors that are unacceptable, and outlines transparent processes for when those norms are violated
  • Collaborating with our school counselors and college/career coordinators to increase awareness of HBCU options for students
  • Integrating student voice into the ongoing development of courses in our future educators pathway, with the express purpose of recruiting students of color who may be interested in careers in education
This list will not be the end of our efforts, but our students made clear over these past two days that our actions speak so much louder than our words, and so I wanted to share those actions which can begin working on immediately.

I can't say enough how proud I am of the strength, unity, and bravery that our students have shown these past few days. While NHS returns to its normal schedule tomorrow, we do not - can not - return to "normal." On behalf of all of the teachers and staff at NHS, we are committed to making NHS the safe, inclusive, and equitable community that our students deserve.

Yours in partnership,

John Harris