As Corvallis High School began one of its human rights assemblies Thursday, Principal Matt Boring laid out for the students why the subject mattered —there have been racial incidents at the school in the last week.
“I’m troubled,” he said. “I’m angry. ... I’m every bad adjective you can think of.”
Boring said Wednesday a CHS student had called a student a racial slur and threatened to beat him until he was white. And at last week’s Winter Formal, a group of students sang a song with the same racial slur in it.
“We need to heal our community,” he said.
The school had two human rights assemblies Thursday, which had the same array of speakers, but were split because the entire school wouldn’t fit in the auditorium at the same time. The assemblies were not related to the events, Boring said, but showed why they were necessary.
The event gave students in the Queer Straight Alliance Club, Z Club, UNICEF Club, Club Latino and the Equality Club a chance to introduce their organizations and talk about what they do. It also featured a panel of community members talking about issues like how to have conversations that build understanding.
An undocumented student in the Club Latino also spoke about how the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy almost made her give up on school because she no longer felt like she could work toward a future where she could work legally.
She added that she wanted to clear up misconceptions about DACA, saying that DACA recipients don’t get free college and can’t have criminal records. She added that she prefers being called undocumented, rather than an illegal alien.
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“It makes me feel more human,” she said.
The assemblies were the organized by CHS senior Rose Martines, who said she’s been working to make it happen for years.
“When I was at the UNICEF National Summit last year in (Washington) D.C., they had two panels that inspired me, one with people from different religious backgrounds talking about what they had in common, and the other was a Republican and a Democrat talking about where their sides agreed. I was almost in tears the discussions were so beautiful to experience,” said Martines, who is co-student body president.
Martines said she thought the CHS event went well.
“It was excellent, really powerful,” she said.
Colleen Works, a CHS assistant principal, said the administration worked with Martines on the assembly because it fits with the school’s focus on equity.
“We are so happy to spotlight the good and difficult work students are doing to make sure every student has a place,” Works said.