A series of racially charged situations, from certain food choices in the high school cafeteria and use of racial slurs inside and outside school, have resulted in a call for change at Hopewell Valley Regional School District by the administration.
The most recent ethnicity report from the National Center for Education Statistics states that Hopewell Valley Regional School District has a 75.9% white student body, with about 12.6% Asian student population, 4.6% Hispanic student population, 2.5% African American population, and 4.4% other races. These values have fluctuated for some ethnic groups over the last couple of years. The number of Asian students has increased dramatically in the District, especially in the elementary schools. The number of African American students has dropped over time.
HVRSD Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Smith, made a statement in an email to the District sharing that there will be the District’s intent to take action in a variety of ways including: curricular updates, especially to history and literature classes; harsher student discipline; hiring of more qualified educators of color; creation and implementation of an athletic parent code of conduct and formation of student diversity groups. In addition, a consultant and diversity expert will be meeting with staff in October on an inservice day. Student-led focus groups and community meetings also proposed solutions to the Board of Education, however the BOE has yet to meet to discuss these ideas.
For people looking for a way to voice their opinions on race and diversity, there is the Hopewell Valley Race and Diversity (“HVRDG”) group, founded by Renata Barnes.
“HVRDG is open to anyone, and we are especially looking to have young people involved in this work,” said Barnes. “We welcome comments, conversation, questions, ideas for topics, etc., from everyone. We invite any high school junior or senior to join us at a meeting. All of our meetings are pot luck and held on a Friday night.”
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, October 4 at 6:30 and is most likely being held in the Board of Education office on 425 S. Main Street in Pennington, NJ. Bring food and meet in the large conference room downstairs.
To join this group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “HVRDG” and/or check the Hopewell Pennington Update Facebook group for more information.