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KUNR Youth Media

Washoe County Student Group Advocates For Inclusivity In The Classroom

A collage of four photos. Each photo is a screenshot from Zoom and includes a young woman looking toward the camera.
Nick Stewart
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KUNR Youth Media
KUNR Youth Media’s Nick Stewart spoke to organizers with Washoe County School District Students for Change via Zoom on May 12, 2021. Those pictured (from top left to bottom right) include Zion Doucettperry, Maia Beaulieu, Isabel Peralta and Hannah Branch.";

A student-led group has been advocating for more inclusive classroom environments in Washoe County. KUNR Youth Media reporter Nick Stewart talked to student organizers to learn more.

Washoe County School District Students for Change was founded by Isabel Peralta, who is now a graduate of Galena High School. She explained why she helped start this group.

“I was keeping up with the Black Lives Matter movement and doing a lot of self-reflection on my own education about the history of African Americans in the United States, as well as other marginalized groups and their history. And I had many moments of, like, ‘I wasn’t taught this,’ or, ‘I wasn’t taught to think this way,’ ” Peralta said.

The group has been vocal at school board meetings, where trustees voted to pass an anti-racist resolution last fall. While mostly symbolic, the board vowed to continually reflect on how the district can support marginalized students.

“I think we’ve made more progress than maybe we expected when we first came together,” Hannah Branch said.

Branch is now a graduate of McQueen High School. She said enacting change isn’t always easy.

“We’ve definitely faced a lot of community pushback that’s centered around belittling the ideas that we’re presenting because we are younger. I think, just like in terms of boots on the ground for organizing, it can be really difficult when you think that we’re all students with, usually, AP curriculum, some of us have jobs, many of us have different family obligations,” Branch said.

One of the group’s next goals is to advocate for revising the school district’s climate surveys so that students are prompted to share more information about issues related to racial discrimination.

Additionally, the Washoe County School District recently formed a task force to review materials related to a K-5 social justice curriculum. That task force will be submitting its first report this fall.

KUNR Youth Media’s Nick Stewart is a senior at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno.

Editor’s note: The audio for this story refers to Hannah Branch as a senior at McQueen High School. When the story aired, Branch had recently graduated. We have updated the text to reflect the change.

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