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Kenilworth Yearbook Letter to the Community

May 28, 2019

Dear Kenilworth Families and Community:

 

This message is intended to provide follow up information regarding the email Kenilworth sent out over the weekend concerning the inappropriate pictures in the school yearbook.

 

I want to begin with thanking everyone for the comments and feedback that have received over the past few days. Clearly, we have some young people on our campus that are not exemplifying the Kenilworth “CARES” acronym (Creativity, Accountability, Respect, Empathy, and Success), using the life skills of empathy or respect before choosing their actions. This is not the first time that a school community has had to face a challenge like this.

 

With the experiences of other schools and communities, as well as our own history, we have learned some lessons and have acquired some action plans that have been successful. First, we need to address the specific students and their families that have been involved in these actions. This step is in progress, immediate consequences and loss of privilege have been assessed. We need to make sure that we use this as a teachable moment for these young people and take the steps that we have used successfully in the past to prevent repeat incidents in the future.

 

This morning I met with our staff and we discussed the yearbook concerns. We immediately developed a “life skills” discussion for the beginning of the day, one that allowed students to ask questions while also making it clear all students should feel welcome and respected at KJHS. As we move forward we need to provide further understanding for these students of the impact of what was done, but also the potential conflict that will have to be faced and negotiated and to do everything possible to make amends.

 

Next, we are taking steps to limit and repair the damage caused by these actions. Our Superintendent and district administration are supporting the actions we need to take as a District to address the actual yearbooks. We are formulating a plan of action that can be taken, given the fact that many students have already gathered signatures and messages from classmates. Students can continue to turn in their yearbooks throughout the week at the library. Jostens is working on photoshopping the concerning pictures and will provide these on sticker paper that will go directly on top of the offensive images. We are hoping to have this taken care of by Thursday evening, and students should be able to pick up their yearbooks by Friday.

 

Thirdly, and most importantly, we are planning a big picture look at these behaviors, and will be creating and implementing a community-based plan to communicate to all students the impact of behaviors of this nature. Any type of discriminating behavior is unacceptable, and we are working to foster greater levels of togetherness and fellowship amongst all of our students. When facing an issue similar to this 18 years ago, we convened multiple community meetings to gather information that were coordinated and managed by experts in meeting facilitation. We then looked to our community partners to help us synthesize and understand the information we gathered and we worked together to create and implement a response plan.

 

We will be reaching out to our partners at the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Mentor Me, Petaluma People Services, the Petaluma Community Relations Council, and other organizations and individuals to support and collaborate with us during this process. This situation has understandably created many emotions for people in our community; we must be mindful moving forward that we do respond emotionally. Our intent will be to craft and implement a thoughtful action plan to prevent any further incidents of this nature, and, more importantly, to facilitate the development of positive relationships and togetherness.

 

Sincerely,

 


Bennett Holley, Principal
Kenilworth Junior High School