High School Principal's Blog

  • Update on Racist Incident

    Posted by Principal Flannery on 12/17/2020
    Dear Riverdale HS Community, 
     
    Thank you for engaging in meaningful conversation in response to the harm of the racist remarks said in a class this week. While the information I am about to share does not diminish the impact of the situation, I do want to let you know the individual who said the hurtful words is not a Riverdale School District student. I feel this is important information to make you aware of as we all work together to move forward our culture and to lead in service, care and love. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Mr. Flannery
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  • Response to Racist Act

    Posted by Principal Flannery on 12/16/2020

    Today, I spoke in an assembly with students. We followed with an advisory time for students to share and process the racist act that happened yesterday. I would like to share with you the message I gave to students:

    Every act of racism, hatred and cruelty harms the target, the bystander and the person who commits the action. Over the last four months, I have heard heartbreaking stories about Riverdale and a historic lack of safety and belonging experienced by students of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.

    A lack of safety for all must be met with accountability. And as important, it must be met with an overwhelming force of LOVE. One of the ways we express love in a school is through service.

    This is where I believe our service hours this year need to be focused. To me, the most important aspect of service for students is the balance of it expanding our minds AND our hearts. I am calling for student and adult service that reflects genuine acts of kindness. Acts of being an ally for students, staff and families in Riverdale.

    On Friday, we will send out resources to support all students in ways they can engage in service. I want to give some suggestions and examples. Please consider reading a book over break that helps you learn about another culture or another community’s experience. If it is a healthy choice for you, volunteer on a helpline. I myself will be volunteering with a national organization that assists LGBTQIA+ teens. Here is something simple that everyone can do. The New Year often is a time of reflection. What is one thing you can work on to be a better ally to a student at this school? What act of kindness or support can you do for them when we get back after break…. Or during break? Many acts of kindness create an overwhelming force of love.

    I have heard about students getting competitive about the number of service hours they record. What I am asking for here is not about documenting time. This is about giving. Please consider how we can work together in service to all of the communities within this school. Right now we are many communities but we are not yet one. That togetherness takes a commitment to values through our actions.

    To all of the adults (staff and families):

    How will we support our children? How will we acknowledge and work on our own biases? How can we learn alongside our students? How can we better model not just tolerance and acceptance - but embracing difference?  What acts of service can we do alongside our students? How will we hold each other and our children accountable in a way that promotes learning and growth? I encourage you to join me in reflection and progress.

    I want to make sure that as a staff we create a safe space for a full range of emotional response to acts that are racist and hateful. This includes pain and sadness. However, as we heal and grow, the whole journey does not need to be sad and full of pain. It should be hard work but uplifting. There should be teachable moments and meaningful reflection. This work is filled with love. This work creates solidarity and brings us together. I ask that you please take a moment today to reflect on this and what your contributions and commitments will be. 

    These essential first steps, these actions by each of us, demonstrate our commitment that Riverdale High School will be a place where all people feel safe and accepted.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Flannery

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  • Google Meet Incident at RHS

    Posted by Principal Flannery on 12/15/2020

    Dear Riverdale High School Community, 

    Today during 3rd period, a person entered a Google Meet in progress and pretended to be a student in the class. The person requested access to the class using a student’s name, yet upon further review, was not using a Riverdale email address. This person proceeded to state a racist remark (the n-word) in muffled repetition prior to being quickly muted and removed from the Google Meet. In response, the teacher acted swiftly by muting and removing the person from the class and then informed the Principal immediately. 

    Our Technology Department is reviewing this situation and supporting our best protocols moving forward. Principal Brian Flannery is meeting individually with all students in the class. A meeting was scheduled for 4:45 p.m. for all parents in the class to meet with Principal Flannery and Interim Superintendent Tobin to discuss the incident and to engage in a question and answer. Moving forward, we will emphasize the importance of using in-district emails only for class time. We stand in resolve to disrupt this behavior and heal and mend moving forward. We welcome questions and comments. 

    Sincerely,

    Principal Brian Flannery and Interim Superintendent Joanna Tobin

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