Some in West Sonoma County have faced high profile scrutiny following a number of discriminatory interactions at Analy High School. Community members reflected on how to confront systemic issues and push for a more welcoming school culture following a recent town hall on inclusion and belonging held at the school.
Hoping to affect positive change at West Sonoma County’s main high school, community member Ariana Diaz de Leon said the student-led panel spoke of their experiences at Analy, and in the community, past and present.
"Talking about microaggressions and things that occurred that were normalized and that, you know, after reflecting, they realized the harm that had taken place and how really it was a systemic issue," Diaz de Leon said. "Something that perpetuates over time and creates a community where people feel like they don't belong and creates disparity."
Kirstyne Lange is president of the Santa Rosa and Sonoma County chapter of the NAACP. She helped facilitate the town hall and said it’s the start of an important process for the school and community.
"Understand who wasn't here," Lange said. "There weren't a lot of teachers, which I was surprised by, and more students, which will be necessary to keep this work going. Cause I think there's an interest and everyone's heart's in the good place. But I think people are really afraid to have these conversations and afraid of where they may go. The beauty of stepping into that fear is actually recognizing that it's actually not that bad."
Analy senior Rachel Cohen helped organize and facilitate the town hall as well. She said the gathering is part of a sustained push from student activists.
"Midway through last year, a bunch of students came together and we started organizing student forums on campus to talk about issues of discrimination that have been going on and that have gotten just really bad," Cohen said. "After that, we created like a student proposal and presented that actually to the administration at the end of last year."
Cohen said students have made a real impact.
The student proposal is like five pages long, had 30 something ideas that the school could do to improve the environment on campus and make it more safe and equitable for all students," Cohen said.