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Racial Justice Action Week at CREC schools helps students amplify their voices

The PreK-12 students shared everyday experiences and learning opportunities related to race, identity, and social justice.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Cool, educational, important, and necessary are just some words students at CREC Schools used to describe Racial Justice Action Week.

"It's a time for education, and it's a time for us to learn about really important problems and how we can potentially change them. Or just put ourselves in a situation to make things better," explained York Mgbejume, who is a senior at CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

This week, all PreK-12 students shared everyday experiences and learning opportunities related to race, identity, and social justice.

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"We've integrated a lot of our classes and math class, we've talked about statistics with racial justice," Shammia Martin, freshman Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts said. "It finds a nice balance of still pertaining to the natural curriculum and adding something new for the students to learn about."

With the high school having such an ethnically diverse student population, school social worker Raynette Holmes said it is vital to help students amplify their voices. 

"Getting the kids to understand that they have a voice," said Holmes. "There's a space for them to express themselves as a movement. That movement continues with them."

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At CREC Academy of International Studies Elementary School, teachers shared historical moments to help students learn, reflect and grow during today's civil rights movements. 

"We're learning how to silently protest, to learn how you don't have to be violent to make to take a stand," explained fifth-grader Londyn.

Teachers said it's essential that educators spark conversation, no matter the age. 

"When we present the facts, they're able to have their discussions about what is going on with and racial justice and racial awareness," explained Miltonette Hayles, 5th-grade teacher At CREC Academy of International Studies Elementary School. "Hearing those conversations are worth it because you get to hear from their point of view how they feel, which sometimes is overshadowed because they are kids."  

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While those conversations are ongoing, the work for change taught during Racial Justice Action Week is never-ending. 

"When I think about our children, they really are our future, and they are the future leaders of our world," explained Principal Patrick Robitaille of CREC Academy of International Studies Elementary School. "When I spent time in our classrooms, watching the work that they're doing, particularly during this week and throughout the entire school year, I'm very optimistic that we have a great future ahead of us." 

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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