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Statement Against Racism

Message sent to our families:

August 25, 2020

To the Niles West Community:

Today and every day moving forward, we want to send a clear and direct message to our Black colleagues, students, and community that we will stand in solidarity with you to fight racism. We know we need to do better in this regard. Racism has no place in our school and in our district. We need to be stronger and kinder toward everyone. Racist acts are threats to the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We want more for our West community.

To our Black community, we see you. In this and every instance, we are committed to standing up and supporting you. Weak responses will not dismantle racist violence or systemic racism. However, our strong collective voices and joint actions have power.

As educators, we have a dual responsibility to not only name racial injustice when we see it, but more importantly, to extend our support to our staff, students and families who are most directly impacted. This includes acknowledging incidents in our country like the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, or racist behaviors that occur in our own community. Our most immediate concern is the well-being of our Black community. Our Black community is hurting.

We are currently working with our Student Services department to respond to this crisis of racialized trauma. In the meantime, something we can all do is destigmatize essential discussions about racism. Regardless of content, we have a responsibility to make room for conversations about racism in the classroom, and most importantly, check in with students and staff of color.

This is all of our work. We need to be in this together. Black lives matter.

In solidarity,
The Niles West Administrative Team

Dr. Karen Ritter, Principal of Niles West High School
Ricardo Aceves, Director of ELL
Omar Alebiosu, Director of Physical Welfare
Dr. Antwan Babakhani, Assistant Principal of Student Services
Amy Bartlett, Assistant Director of Special Education
Todd Bowen, Director of World Languages
Tim Dykes, Dean of Students
P.A. Ford, Director of Fine & Applied Arts
Stephanie Hentz, Director of Special Education
Marcus Holleran, Director of Buildings & Grounds
Dr. Dana Krilich, Athletic Director
Dr. Michael Kucera, Director of English
Lucas Leavenworth, Director of Mathematics
Terri Laux, Assistant Athletic Director
Dr. Ami LeFevre, Director of Science
Tim Naatz, Assistant Director of Student Services
Katie Odell, Director of Student Activities
Steve Parnther, Assistant Principal of Operations
Jerry Pope, Dean of College Counseling
Chris Powell, Director of ECSB
César Rosales, Dean of Students
Dr. Amy Tucker, Dean of Students
Martin Zacharia, Director of Social Studies

***

Dear Niles North Family,

As a school community, we are mortified by the events that occurred on Sunday evening in Kenosha. Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers go out to Jacob Blake and his friends and  family during this difficult time. This incident has had a far reaching effect on our community as Jacob attended middle and high school in Evanston. This tragedy was clearly another example of the manifestation of systemic racism in American society and serves as a reminder of the struggles that all People of Color, especially Black Americans face on a daily basis to retain their humanity in the face of abject racism.

As an organization that aspires to be anti-racist, we have much work to do to create an environment in which all voices are elevated and everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. To achieve racial justice in our school community requires a movement, not a moment. Let us ponder how we can collectively use each one of the moments throughout history in which Black lives were deemed expendable to create that “movement” to eradicate institutional racism and all of its insidious iterations. One of those movements is to frame racist actions as threats to the health and well being of our school community.  As a school administrative team, we also reaffirm that Black Lives Matter.

We want to impress upon our students and staff that Niles North is a safe space for dialogue about race. In the coming weeks there will be virtual spaces for students to engage in conversation on ways Niles North can be an inclusive and supportive place for the diverse identities of our community. The conversations will be ongoing, challenging and extremely necessary. As students and staff process these events, we want to ensure that we are providing spaces for you to speak openly about this event. Although we are in a remote learning environment, creating space for racialized trauma is imperative and our student services team will be working on creating those spaces of support. We look forward to working with all school stakeholders on this difficult, yet most important work. Now more than ever, we must truly all be in this together.

The Niles North Administrative Team