Our St. Helens High School community is saddened and embarrassed by the events experienced by the Parkrose Women’s Basketball Team when visiting our school earlier this month.
Any behavior that creates a hostile or threatening environment is not condoned by our school and we sincerely apologize for the resulting impact of any and all hateful words or actions that were communicated.
Immediately following the incident, St. Helens High School and Parkrose High School launched a joint investigation to identify and hold accountable those who engaged in this unacceptable behavior. We are working collaboratively to improve the climate at future school exchanges.
We have already begun planning an opportunity for the two teams to come together to discuss their experiences. This restorative practice will allow our students to share how these events impacted them and to move forward with understanding and respect for one another. In addition, we have increased supervision and school resource officer presence at future athletic events.
As principal, it is my responsibility to ensure that all members of the school community demonstrate positive relationships and cultural competence. I am deeply committed to fostering a safe, positive, and inclusive culture at St. Helens High School. To help achieve this goal, we plan to develop a student-led equity task force to engage our students as equity and inclusivity leaders. We will be holding listening sessions for our St. Helens students to share experiences and ideas to improve our school climate with our administration. We have also discussed bringing together our athletic team captains throughout the NWOC League to identify norms, provide cultural competence training, and support our students in promoting positive sportsmanship and camaraderie.
We recognize the importance of developing an equity lens and using culturally-relevant teaching to engage all students and promote prosocial behavior. The formation of a staff equity and inclusivity team is a priority to ensure that our staff is receiving the professional development and training necessary to be effective and empowered anti-racist educators.
Acting with integrity is a core value of our school. Integrity is defined as the quality of having strong moral principles while acting honorably and ethically. It is doing what it right and just. When we see racism, harassment, or bullying, we must interrupt this despicable behavior and respond appropriately.
Integrity is also the state of being whole and undivided. This unity is essential to the functioning of our school community. The St. Helens High School collective vision statement clearly identifies that all are treated with respect and dignity in a non-threatening environment. We must diligently work towards this vision, together, by doing what is right. It is only through active collaboration, respectful discourse, and mindful listening that we can achieve this vision. Our students deserve nothing less.
Dr. Katy Wagner
Principal, St. Helens High School