Lake Oswego HS paper tackles student racism

'We expected negative feedback because people don't want to hear the truth'

(L-R) Jenny Qwon, Grace Pestridge and Alyssa Huque, editors of the Lake Oswego High School paper, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)
(L-R) Jenny Qwon, Grace Pestridge and Alyssa Huque, editors of the Lake Oswego High School paper, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (KOIN) — Racist acts at Lake Oswego High School have been called appalling and shocking by Principal Rollin Dickinson. But it’s the editors of the school newspaper that are trying to spur a conversation among students.

Seniors Jenny Qwon, Grace Pestridge and Alyssa Huque said the election of Donald Trump may have emboldened some students to speak out, but they feel the school has ignored this problem for a long time.

The Lake Views paper lists particular instances of racist rhetoric reported by students:

— An online post on the Class of 2017 page that students should create a “Ku Klux Klub” and invite every black student, then sacrifice them

— A poster was put up in the cafeteria depicting Nazis throwing Jews into an oven. Some students laughed and took pictures.

The Lake Oswego High School newspaper from November 8, 2016
The Lake Oswego High School newspaper from November 8, 2016

“We saw a Facebook post on our class of 2017 Facebook page that was very inappropriate and offensive and racial and we decided to take action,” Qwon told KOIN 6 News.

She also said she’s “felt there were people who said, ‘Go back to China.’ I’m not even from China.”

(L-R) Jenny Qwon, Grace Pestridge and Alyssa Huque, editors of the Lake Oswego High School paper, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)
(L-R) Jenny Qwon, Grace Pestridge and Alyssa Huque, editors of the Lake Oswego High School paper, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)

Pestridge said that “started a conversation which I think is the most important thing.”

And, Huque added, “We have caused a discussion in other communities, an amazing impact on students.”

They said the school gave the student body 40 minutes to read the paper and discuss it, which pleased the editors.

“The school and administrators have definitely taken action,” Pestridge said.

This week, the school had an assembly on the power of love and forgiveness, how people can stand up and make a difference.

The editors also said they’ve gotten negative messages and texts from students who claim they’re blowing the issue out of proportion.

“We expected some negative feedback because that’s what happens when you are telling people the truth,” Kwon said. “They don’t want to hear it.”

Pestridge said her parents were shocked at the number of racial incidents, thinking it had more or less died with the older generations.

Lake Oswego High School, as seen on Google Street View, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)
Lake Oswego High School, as seen on Google Street View, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)