Students from Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School as well as several nearby districts held powerful, productive discussions about race, hate speech and diversity during a “Day of Dialogue” at SUNY Cobleskill.
The day-long gathering, which included 14 students from C-R High School, aimed to empower students to counter racially insensitive language and behavior. It also offered students opportunities to have open, honest discussions with their peers about respect for all cultures and how to improve the cultural climate at their own schools.
“The goal is to empower students,” said C-R High School principal Brett Barr, who helped start the inaugural Day of Dialogue last year. “It would be great for students of any ethnic group, nationality, color, and religion to be able to identify something that would be offensive to another student and address it politely.”
The programming included both small- and large-group discussions. Students had the chance to meet and talk with students from both within and outside their districts.
“I commend our student leaders from C-R High School and our neighboring districts for engaging in this important work,” said C-R Superintendent Carl Mummenthey, who attended one of the event’s sessions. “We are committed to ensuring that all students are welcomed in a safe, positive, respectful, and supportive environment.”
The C-R students, who were nominated by faculty members to attend, were joined by their peers from the Sharon Springs, Duanesburg, Berne-Knox-Westerlo and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school districts.
“A lot of the things we talked about were things we all know about, but we didn’t want to say anything,” said Nate De La Cruz, a junior at C-R High School. “At first everyone was a little shy and nervous. But then we all realized we’re here to talk about things and to change them. And the first step toward solving a problem is acknowledging that there is one.”