Students fight for representation

Maram Faragallah

More stories from Maram Faragallah


Photo by Lucas Gillespie

Senior Yerim Kone and Junior Graciela Lune discuss equal representation ideas for a more diverse WJ.

At WJ, there are U.S. History, World History, African-American and Latin-American history classes. Last year, senior Yerim Kone and junior Graciela Luna proposed a Native American history class to achieve equal representation in the learning environment.

“Our goal is more integration of history and current acknowledgment of Native American history in school courses,” Kone said.

Luna and Kone are officers of the Safe-T Club, a club dedicated to students who have faced offensive language and hate speech. They provide a safe environment for students to talk about their problems. They work with the administration to create solutions in order to achieve equality and acceptance in the school. In a discussion meeting, a Native American student proposed the idea for the class. Immediately after, Kone and Luna met with Principal Jennifer Baker to discuss the matter.

AP US History teacher Nathan Schwartz said he teaches Native American history in his class.

“If the administration wants to do a Native American history class, that’s cool, but Native American history ends with European colonization and that’s a course. Another course would be the effect of Europeans on Native Americans. Those two are different classes,” Schwartz said.

The idea of having a Native American history course was initially suggested to provide a more diverse learning environment at WJ.

“The purpose of this class would be to educate, not to make anyone feel bad or guilty. Our goal is not to shame anyone. Our goal is to raise awareness about what happened in the past and how it impacts current society today,” Luna said.

Senior Sewa Eaglehawk is a student at WJ who is of Native American background. She said she liked the idea of having a new class and was excited that students want to know more about her culture.

“It is pretty cool that people want to know about Native American history. Classes talk little about our history,” Eaglehawk said.

Principal Baker also said she likes the idea of having a Native American history class at WJ and said that the class will be implemented if there’s student interest.

“If students have an interest in a class, we can work to have this class implemented. We run the class when there’s interest, and I believe high school is a time to explore,” Baker said.

On the other hand, both club officers and teachers thought that the problem faced is not enough sign ups.

“We understand at the moment, that implementation of another history course is very difficult. However, we will always advocate as a club for equality and Native American representation,” Luna said.