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CSD Statement on Recent Events

Recent events in our nation have once again brought the subject of racial inequality to the forefront of our collective attention. The killing of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis was senseless and avoidable. Appropriate words are hard to find, yet we as your local school district feel compelled to reach out to our community.

Centralia’s history highlights the possibilities that exist when communities intentionally work to overcome racism. Our city’s founder, Mr. George Washington, was born to slaves in Virginia. He settled in what would become Centralia in 1852, when the area was part of the Oregon Territory. Because African Americans were legally barred from settling land in the Oregon Territory, his white adoptive parents filed the claim on his behalf. More than 100 pioneers petitioned the territorial government on Washington’s behalf. He was allowed to stay through legislative action, and was able to make his claim in the Territory of Washington upon its creation. Centralia was founded in 1875, just 13 years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Today, our community is one of the oldest and largest cities founded by an African American surviving in the United States.

Many of our families are experiencing fear, anxiety, outrage, and anger over recent events in our nation. Nearly 40 percent of our students are of a race other than white. It is our responsibility to provide a place in our society where all people feel safe and respected. We will never stop trying to ensure that our schools meet that critical goal; nor will we apologize for it. Every person, regardless of color, deserves to feel safe and valued. Our nation was born with a declaration that all people are created equal. Our nation was founded with the premise of equality for all. 244 years after the declaration of independence was signed, we still haven’t lived up to that ideal.

Our district recognizes the rights of members of our society to voice their grievances in peaceful assemblies that facilitate a productive dialogue. This right is preserved in our Constitution. It is how we come to understand the views and values of others who have lived lives very different from our own.

This is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from each other and to grow together in mutual respect for one another. It takes all of us working together - learning, listening, and reflecting on how we can make meaningful change in our community. Everyone has a role to play in our homes, schools, workplaces, and our community at-large.

Your children may be experiencing a wide range of emotions in response to the images they are seeing in the media and on the internet. They will almost certainly have questions. Although we are still not able to come together in person, our staff remains available to our families. If your child needs to speak to a counselor, or if you need resources to help your child understand and process these events, please contact your school counselor or principal.

We have gathered these resources that you might consider using at home to help explain current events to your child, and to help you have productive conversations about race relations:

Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice

Talking to Kids About Racial Violence

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education: Talking to Children After Racial Incidents

CSD Administration: Kristy Vetter (Interim Superintendent), Dr. Lisa Grant (Incoming Superintendent), Tabitha Whiting (Exec. Director of Human Resources), Tammie Jensen-Tabor (Executive Director of Teaching and Learning), Rick Bonner (Executive Director of Finance), Ed Petersen (Public Relations)
 
Principals: Josue Lowe, Kristeen Johnson, David Roberts, Kelli Demonte, Danielle Vekich, Andy Justice, Shannon Richards

CSD School Board: Lori Fast, Amy Buzzard, Vickie Jackson, Mandi McDougall, Beverly Clark