Rockwood Students Help Foster Change in Washington D.C. and St. Louis

Rockwood School District - 10/1/2015

Eureka High School junior Ellie Bennett works hard to spread the message of equality whenever she can.

“I think because I'm a student, and because I'm young, I can add a new perspective on the issue of diversity and race,” she said, “especially diversity and race pertaining to schools.”

Cole Reat (middle) and Ellie Bennett (right of Reat) heading to    the 21st Century School Integration conference.

Cole Reat (middle) and Ellie Bennett (right of Reat) heading to
the 21st Century School Integration conference.

That’s one of many reasons she and senior Cole Reat were chosen to represent Missouri in Washington D.C. in September at the 21st Century School Integration conference. The event brought the voices of students, parents, and educators together who aspire to create and sustain racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and linguistic integration in their schools.

“I wanted to go because I love this kind of work,” Bennett explained. “I love talking about this sort of thing and I want to do this for the rest of my life. I hoped to spread the idea of mending racial gaps and give people the resources to help start change in their own towns.”

“Ellie discussed the need for us to think beyond the physical aspects of integrated schools and think about how we can support integration more holistically,” said EdPlus Director of Learning and Career Development Drew Schwartz. “Cole talked about a number of inspirational ideas as well, including the notion that he is aware and respectful of the fact that many others have not been afforded the same privileges. Both students want to, and will, make a genuine difference.”

Back in Missouri, more than 40 Rockwood students came together on Sept. 30 to help foster change in St. Louis. While attending the Gateway2Change Summit on Race, students were afforded the opportunity to discuss race with peers throughout the region, engage in activities designed to foster understanding and develop solutions for our community. 

"Gateway2Change was an eye opening and learning experience," said Marquette freshman Sara Berryman. "I am very excited to attend the next summit they are holding at the end of October which will be about putting all our solution ideas into action."

The mission of Gateway2change is to empower a connected student community of positive change agents to transform the world. The movement, which began following events in Ferguson, includes multiple opportunities for students to be active social reform agents for issues related to race and diversity.