Some kids are scared. I don't write this for propaganda or other political influence. It's the facts. Prior to the election, students were having conversations about what will happen if one candidate got into office. Today, that is a reality for them. What's next?
We have over 600 Hispanic students in our school. That is our largest subgroup of students. Some were born here, some immigrated, some are refugees, and yes, some may even be here illegally. But it's not just our Hispanic students that have made mention of the new realities in which we live. We have had black students feel as if they lost a voice. We have had East African students worry about families being able to visit or if they will be able to return to visit them. That is just the ethnic and racial aspects. We have a strong LGBTQ and Muslim population as well who may now struggle to find their voice and place in our community.
But, that's our job as school leaders. We set the tone and direction for all of our kids.
First thing this morning, the administrative banter began to discover how we ensure a "smooth transition of power" for our kids? How do we reduce the anxiety of the election results for some of our students while allowing for students on the other side of the issue to feel pride and success? We shared ideas, read articles, shared thoughts, and crafted words. We wanted our kids - no matter the subgroup - to know that they were our kids and we have their backs or supported their beliefs even if we don't as adults. That starts with empathy and understanding. We sent a common message and the staff response was immense.
Our teaching and learning staff have seen change and evolved to embrace it. We are the most diverse school in Western Iowa. This is a very, very foreign concept to our community and not well understood by others in our state. Our students do not look or sound like those of the rural, farming communities that surround us in the Midwest. They don't have the same life experiences or backgrounds. We speak 15 different languages and have 51 students in our school who are new to the country. We are their first taste of America. I wouldn't trade one of our urban 1,498 students for the world. Each one of them gives me hope that, generationally, we are progressing and becoming a better populous.
We will continue to prepare our students for a global economy. We will teach them humility and respect. We will hold them to high expectation. We will support them. We will teach them democracy built on the premise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We will encourage them to be civically minded and to act on the ideaology they choose.
As a principal, I never thought I would need to write about a presidential elections impact. I pray that I never have to again. As a student body and a staff, we will move on and grow from this. As I see it, it is like planting a tree. Years from now we will reap the benefits of what is sowed today - sometimes we have to weather storms to get there. All storms pass.
Ryan Dumkrieger is the principal of Sioux City North High School.