By C. Harris-Lockwood, Editor-in-chief
First off I want to say I am a proud alumna of Whitesboro High School. I attended the Whitesboro School District from 1958 – 1969. I was a member of Student Council from 4th grade to 11th grade, I was the youngest elected officer of Student Council in my Freshman year and was elected President of the class of ’69 for our Sophomore year in 1966.
I was elected president of District 7 in the State Association of Student Councils in my Junior year. I was a Cheerleader, I was in Ski Club, an A ‘Capella choir member and cast in many plays and performances while a student there. I marched in parades in the village and was a member of the sorority my desire, KE Society. I was a Candy striper.
I was a recognized leader in the Upstate region and the State in the middle of the 1960’s, a turbulent time in the nation for race relations. As a result of my demonstrated leadership at Whitesboro then Utica Mayor, Dick Assaro appointed me president of the Greater Utica Youth Service, GUYS.
I also happened to lead the area’s first non-violent civil disobedience from Whitesboro High School. I organized and led the Walk Out of 450 students to protest an austerity budget.
We’re talking the Whitesboro School District recognizing a Black girl as a leader, in the middle of the 1960’s and sending her to leadership conferences all over the state. Representing the district and speaking before state conferences, meeting then Governor Rockefeller at briefings and collaborating with other youth leaders was taken in stride.
But, I’ve been embarrassed by the District over the past few years. I have fielded too many complaints from distraught parents of BIPOC students who have been horribly mistreated while attending Whitesboro High School. So, when I read of the current teacher’s unnecessary reference to Corn Hill as being a place where one might be shot, it was a fresh embarrassment. Also, because I felt powerless not really being able to anything about these individual insults and aggressions.
It seems as if these wicked racist complaints and bullying have been commonplace. The Whitesboro High School culture is so obviously racist that the coaches, teachers, administrators, advisors, counselors and other staff are comfortable with the student’s ongoing bad behaviors and have over the years been ignored or considered normal.
I recently decided to reach out on Facebook to as the broad question as to stories about current treatment of BIPOC kids. Though my brother and I got an outstanding education there in the 60’s, and we weren’t the only Black kids there, this current era has been nothing but trouble for BIPOC kids there. (Black and Indigenous, People of Color)
This is one of the responses I received from the mother of a White child.
“Whitesboro HS is just a horrible place in general. My daughter was bullied so badly there, I was afraid for her life. I had to pull her out of there, pay tuition to Clinton HS , and drive her there every day, because Whitesboro High school would do nothing to rectify the situation. They ignored my complaints and made no effort to get to the bottom of the abuse she was experiencing. I paid taxes to Whitesboro Schools and got no help from them whatsoever. Clinton HS, however, was absolutely life changing for my daughter! Turned out to be a much better experience and education. I despise that school and I don’t have anything good to say about Whitesboro in general either. Couldn’t wait to sell that house. I would rather live in Utica any day.”
My response was, “Since your daughter is White the bad treatment had nothing to do with race which says the Whitesboro culture stinks all the way around. So don’t be BIPOC on top of it. They make your life hell if you’re not what? What do you have to be to be treated well at Whitesboro?
I’m still waiting to hear more responses from families of children of color as to their treatment but, in the meantime, what is up with you Whitesboro? Do you need a bunch of us alumni to make a trip over there to remind you how to be a decent school district?
Whitesboro alumni are reacting in horror over recent reports of overt racism spilling over into teacher’s assignments. Do you need us to recommend some antiracist books and seminars? Do you guys need some encounter sessions on how to run a school district and not damage kids in the process?
Seriously, what happened to Warrior pride?? What’s in the water in Whitesboro? And then, what about that logo with the Plains Indian headdress? And uh, btw, Village, thanks for changing your seal.