by Julia Queller
The WHS community engaged in multiple activities last Friday in response to the Trayvon Martin controversy, in which a black teenager was shot and killed while wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
Students and teachers participated in the 100 Hoodie Demo. According to Social Studies Teacher Mr. Jason Grant, participants wore hoods to increase awareness and understanding of the case.
The idea originated in Grant’s and Special Services Teacher Ms. Jane D’Alessandro’s U.S. II class when they discussed a similar nationwide demonstration and determined that it could be effective at WHS.
D’Alessandro said that the demonstration was "a quiet reflection on what Trayvon went through."
Grant said: "The demonstration was a good educational experience.... It has increased awareness about some of the ills that can arise when different factions meet."
Project ‘79 Coordinator Mr. Peter Horn said the hoodie demonstration explored the conflict between what somebody looks like in public versus what somebody is supposed to look like in public.
Spanish Teacher Ms. Elizabeth Schultz said: "Wearing the hood was interesting. My students didn’t recognize me. There could be some symbolism with that—that we look past people wearing hoods."
She added that it was difficult to notice the demonstration because participants were not allowed to wear their hoods up in class.
Senior Jaime Lara said: "I started to view [the demonstration] as a whole psychosocial experiment, seeing how one’s dress affects others’ views of you.... People gave me sketchy glances."
According to Horn, students who wore hoods felt supported. "There was a sense of solidarity and people acknowledging that they do care about what’s happening in the world."
After school on Friday, Horn and Art Teacher Mr. Roy Chambers hosted an open forum to discuss the controversy.
"It is important to have a place where people can come together to talk about complicated issues that don’t have easy answers," said Horn.
Freshman Lanre Badmus attended the forum because he "wanted some place to have an open discussion about how the case has affected Sanford, FL, our school community and the entire nation."
Among topics discussed at the forum were the legality of the case, the race controversy, the media’s coverage of events and aspects of our culture that the case has exposed.
"The issue of looks and race—no one likes to talk about that here," said Lara. "I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more student input [at the meeting]."
Said D’Alessandro: "I was glad to see so many teachers because I think they’ll bring it back to their classrooms.... It’s an important social issue, and we really need to change this aspect of society."