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Former students and teachers speak out about racism at Grace Christian School

Former students and teachers gathered outside Grace Christian School Saturday to share experiences with racism they say they had during their time there.
Former students and teachers gathered outside Grace Christian School Saturday to share experiences with racism they say they had during their time there.(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 19, 2020 at 7:38 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -

There was little chanting or marching at the protest outside Grace Christian School, Saturday. Instead, chalk drawings of hopes and prayers for the school, as former students and teachers shared their experiences with racism and discrimination.

“As a teacher at Grace, I observed many institutional practices and heard institutional narratives that deeply troubled me,” said Betsy Winkle, a Grace Christian Alumnus and former teacher at the school. “I heard racialized language and racist-leaning perspectives from students.”

Organizers were asking for a public acknowledgment from the school about the racism they say they and others, who stayed anonymous, experienced.

“I remember having people ask me if I jumped the border to get to school,” said co-organizer Denali Romero, who described herself as Afro-Latina. “A teacher would be very blatant about how they disliked immigrants and they disliked immigration as a whole.”

Randy Karlberg, the superintendent of GCS, while declining an interview, said in a statement "as a school we do not support the protest, but we also are not standing in the way of it either. I personally have met with the two protest hosts and had a productive conversation listening to their concerns. I have told them that I am available to discuss personal concerns that any of our alumni or current students have. I find that this has been most productive when it happens in person consistent with our stated policies and philosophy.

When asked if she agreed the conversation was “productive,” Romero said she would’ve liked to see more come out of it.

“It was productive in a way, but in terms of getting our voice out there or getting some kind of recognition or acknowledgement from the school publicly, there was a lot of hesitation,” she said.

But while they were protesting the school, Romero added it was not out of hate, but a desire to see it improve.

“These things did happen,” she said. “And even though it is very disappointing that they happened, we can use this opportunity to grow and to do something better, and to make Grace an amazing place.”

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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