A Message from Superintendent Michael Riordan
It has been over two weeks since the tragic killing of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis. Over the past 15 days we have witnessed countless protests throughout the country in the name of fairness, equity, and justice for all, with the ultimate goal being the end of racism in all forms, especially for members of the black community. One such protest took place last week right in front of our school which was organized by one of our recent graduates. In the wake of this turmoil and the incredible pain and fear that so many have experienced, I wanted to share the following message with our students, parents, staff and community.
Oak Lawn Community High School is 100% committed to the engagement, empowerment, and enrichment of every one of our students. The first sentence of our school’s mission statement highlights the fact that we are a “diverse and inclusive school” where all students are supported and challenged to achieve their maximum potential. These supports and challenges include the development of our student’s social and emotional skills, such as empathy, conflict resolution, self advocacy, and social justice. We are proud of our students and staff who have taken action to support people of color. We fully support these individuals and, in fact, encourage and empower them to continue taking action in an effort to positively influence our community.
Oak Lawn Community High School will continue to engage and empower our students in many ways. We are absolutely committed to this endeavor, and we will renew our efforts to maintain an equitable environment where all of our students are treated with dignity and respect and where opportunity and access are available to all.
Oak Lawn Community High School also fully acknowledges that we have more work to do. We need to listen to and address the needs of all students, especially our students of color. We will continuously monitor all policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that our school fairly and equitably addresses the needs of all students. We will continue to provide effective training for our staff to ensure that unconscious biases do not result in any type of discrimination in the school setting and beyond. We are committed to our role of preparing students for future success through a safe, supportive and intellectually challenging environment committed to the values of Spartan PRIDE.
A Message from Principal Jeana Lietz
Over the past two weeks, I have experienced an overwhelming number of emotions; I have been frustrated, sad, and at times paralyzed by inaction. The events around the country and in our own community have caused me to reflect on our actions, and I feel that what we have done is simply not enough: Our students still feel unseen and experience discrimination. I want EVERY student to feel like OLCHS is their home and be comfortable here. As a white woman, there are privileges that I have enjoyed and injustices that I have never faced. To hear the stories of our students, staff, and our community who have faced injustices and how they feel disconnected and underrepresented brings me to tears.
During the past couple school years, our administration at Oak Lawn Community High School began to focus on race and diversity and the embedded issues of inequity in our building, and education in general. Some of the steps we have taken so far include working as an entire staff to make students feel engaged in our school and community and empowering them to make changes when they aren’t. Part of our work includes issuing a school climate survey every year, then looking at those results for areas of improvement. This past year I started an Equity Council made of students of diverse backgrounds (race, gender, sexual preference) where students give feedback about policies, practices, and actions in our building that are discriminatory. We have started to examine data to identify areas of inequity. We have done research about restorative discipline practices.
Oak Lawn Community High School can and will do better for our students and our community. We need to ensure that we are listening to and addressing the needs of all students, especially our students of color and other marginalized groups.
I am committed to specifically:
- Continue the work of our student-led Equity Council.
- Solicit even more feedback from students. And then listen and take action on that feedback.
- Create new groups and continue to promote existing groups that celebrate diversity such as our Muslim Student Association, K-pop club, Alliance, Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS).
- Educating myself and our staff on issues of racism and what we can do to fight these injustices in our building, and beyond.
- Implement recruiting and hiring initiatives designed to increase diversity among our staff that mirrors our student body.
- Regularly examine data to identify places of inequity and unfair treatment (placement, grades, discipline, etc).
As always, I encourage students, staff, or any member of our community to reach out to me at any time with concerns or ideas for improvement.