Feeling Safe in the Learning Place

Jayden Trawick-Junta, Staff Reporter

The national conversation about racism continues across the country.  But, how are students communicating and reacting to the issues related to discrimination and other impacts of racism? Some Rex Putnam High School students, who are a part of the Black Students Union at the high school (also known as BSU), spoke on the racial climate and their past experiences at Putnam. Racism is obviously a serious issue everywhere in this country, and that is no different in the North Clackamas School District. 

Lacey Joseph, who is a sophomore, says she has had a positive reaction. “Putnam is cool, it’s different for me because I grew up in Cali… the people different, they act different, but it’s different everywhere.” When asked if the school has done enough to deal with racism at the school, Joseph replied, “ Well, currently no. They basically tell us to overlook it.” Joseph says that she has had some teachers who have spoken out about racism in this district. The ones that first came to mind is Deborah Barnes,  the Journalism/Broadcast teacher at Sabin-Shellenberg. BSU has also been a very positive thing for many students and Joseph states that “BSU encourages everybody to be themselves not just the ‘black kids.’” The Black Students Union has a positive message and is something she believes everyone should consider joining. 

Legeci Franklin-Bey, is a Senior at RPHS. Franklin-Bey also moved schools during her freshman year to Putnam. Franklin-Bey described the change as “I didn’t think I was going to like it when I first moved here my freshman year, but Putnam staff are super supportive and there are lots of cool people here.” There have been clear sightings of supportive teachers. A few of the names given include Luke Scarpino, Mrs. Hammond, Mr. Richardson, and Mrs. Pinkston. Some members of these staff are new to Putnam, and it seems to be that the new hiring of staff has been good for students. When asked about her past experiences with racism, Franklin-Bey stated, “The last four years have been filled with the most annoying, racist questions… Little stuff that happens all the time.” The microaggressions that happen go on all of the time and can add up very quickly. She also has also had great experiences with BSU. Her description of it is “A place where black students can come together, feel safe about speaking their feelings and truths and having fun.” 

Some of the students in the group say racism does exist at Putnam. The school has tried to make changes to better the school, but students still feel as though it’s trying to avoid the conversations about racism. The Black Students Union is working towards the goal of understanding and dealing with racism and is trying to make sure that black students have a place to feel safe and can try to improve things.