How do you repair relationships fractured over conflicts on race and racism (especially considering the divisive nature of our political discourse)?
Denver and Weld County school officials are probing that question following an incident at a weekend high school football game where a confederate flag appeared and racial slurs flew, the Denver Post reports.
During that football game, students from Denver’s Manual High School said the visiting Weld Central Rebels’ team taunted them with racial slurs in between tackles and someone attempted to bring a confederate flag into game. Three players were injured during the game including one sustaining a concussion and another a leg injury.
The simmering racial tensions drew conflicting initial statements from both schools. But on Tuesday, officials and students began a search for common ground, in an effort “to build bridges” via an “exchange of ideas and perspective,” Manual and Weld Central principals and superintendents said in a joint letter to parents.
“Together, we are laying the foundation for a Student Leadership Exchange between our schools, one in which student leaders from both schools come together and share ideas and perspectives,” the letter said. “As part of the exchange, our student leaders will have the opportunity to visit each other’s schools and communities.”
“We believe we have much to learn from each other,” the letter reads.
Read the full letter below:
Dear Manual and Weld Central High School Communities,
We as school leaders and superintendents are joining together on the common ground we share – our deep love for our students and our communities, and our profound belief that our mission as educators is to build bridges of understanding.
This past weekend has been difficult for both our communities, and we want to move forward in a way that supports learning and healing. We know there are greatly conflicting accounts as to what occurred Friday night, and we also know that, despite our best efforts, we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened. Based on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag. At the same time, multiple Manual eyewitnesses reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images. To be clear, the confederate flag plays no role in Weld Central, and neither school condones symbols or acts of racism.
Our focus now must be on working together for the sake of our students. Together, we are laying the foundation for a Student Leadership Exchange between our schools, one in which student leaders from both schools come together and share ideas and perspectives. As part of the exchange, our student leaders will have the opportunity to visit each other’s schools and communities. We believe we have much to learn from each other.
As we work together, we encourage our students, families, educators and community members to focus on moving forward and building bridges. At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together.