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Brian Wieher is the district’s new Director of Child Nutrition Services. He comes to KCPS with more than 20 years of experience in team leadership, project management, public relations and customer service.

In case of inclement weather over a snow-covered Union Station

With colder weather arriving, we have been planning for the potential of snow/inclement weather days and Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) days for the upcoming winter season in KCPS. With this, we wanted to communicate how we will conduct any upcoming snow day plans.

A group dressed in coats cuts a blue ribbon in front of a memorial for Thacher School.

Kansas City Public Schools honored a commitment to the Northeast community, dedicating a memorial at the site of the former Thacher School, 5008 Independence Ave.

In Social Justice Class, Students at East High School Learn to Speak Up for Their Community

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A woman in a mask takes notes in a classroom as high school students tell her about their community.

Students in East High School Vice Principal Bryan VanOsdale's social justice class participate in a listening session with KCUR staff on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. In small groups, students shared their experiences going to school in zip code 64127 and what people get wrong about living in the urban core.

 

Seniors Stefano Merced and Daniela Moreno wish more people saw the East High School they do.

“Test scores don’t tell the whole story,” Stefano said. “People in this school are dealing with a lot of things, at home and in life, and where we live inhibits us sometimes.” 

“East High School is a good high school. Teachers help you with anything you need,” Daniela said. “But we need more funding.”

Stefano and Daniela are students in the social justice class at East, taught by Vice Principal Bryan VanOsdale. It’s a capstone class that challenges students’ assumptions about race, culture and identity.

“We had a week-long talk about race and how it’s imaginary,” said senior Juan Vejar. “It’s not real. It’s a social construct.”

Mind blown, he mouths, closed fists exploding open over his head. 

And that’s exactly why VanOsdale developed this course 13 years ago. Known to his students as Mr. Van, VanOsdale wanted his students to think critically about how the world was changing after Barack Obama was elected president. Then and now, he reminds students of their power as young people. 

“Do you realize who was the civil rights movement? They were 16, 17, 18, 19 years old,” VanOsdale said. “They sat at lunch counters and had food poured on them. They walked through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They rode the Trailways and Greyhound buses across the South during Freedom Summer.

A man in a black shirt and teal pants talks to high school students in a classroom.

East High School students tell KCUR's Byron Love that the pandemic changed their community. Restaurants are either crowded or closed, and there aren't as many places to hang out with friends as there were before. 

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All of the students knew the stereotypes about inner city high schools. They told KCUR that sometimes visitors to East are tense, almost like they’re afraid to be there. The students know that they deal with things that students in other schools don’t, like violence in their community.

But they also take AP classes, play sports and earn college scholarships.

“There are a lot of smart people who don’t get the attention they deserve,” Juan said. 

“They get up every day. They come to school. They work hard. This is giving voice to that. Important people in the community are coming to East and asking, ‘What do you think?’” VanOsdale said. 

Daniela appreciated the reporters taking the time to talk to high school students.

“We actually went in depth into how we feel,” Daniela said. “We were able to speak our opinions.”

Stefano added he and his classmates want to be part of the solution.

“People think just because we’re young our opinions don’t matter, that they’re not coherent enough to adequately fix things,” he said. “This is a good way to get our thoughts and feelings out into the public.”

 

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