MMS students stand united in the aftermath of alleged hate crime in county
As the county buzzed last week with news and questions about the alleged attack on Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Aaron Trigg, the students at Marlinton Middle School were filled with questions that needed answers. Several students turned to High Rocks Executive Director Sarah Riley for those answers.
ﾓMy phone started ringing at my house immediately, and it was pretty clear that it was something the kids were worried about and were scared about,ﾔ Riley said.
With calls from students and High Rocks employees coming in, Riley organized a program to present to the students at school with MMS Principal Joe Riley. Two days after the alleged attack, High Rocks volunteers and employees visited the school to discuss the alleged attack and prejudices in general.
ﾓIt was an important thing for us to be able to talk to the kids about, together, and to help them because a hate crime is a crime against a lot of people,ﾔ Sarah said. ﾓItﾒs a move that makes everyone feel like a victim and feel scaredﾠ ﾖ and feel scared to speak up about it. I really felt the kids needed our support to figure out how to get past feeling like a victim and get proactive.ﾔ
In each class, the students discussed how reports of an attack made them feel and what they would like the county to be like. In Louisa Kinerﾒs fifth grade class, the students wrote down three words that described how news of an alleged attack made them feel. The consensus of the class was that they felt mad, sad and scared.
ﾓWe wanted to have some space to understand that this is something that happened to one person, but it also happened to a whole lot of people, and to understand that language of ﾑwe donﾒt want your kind in our community.ﾒ Two guys in masks donﾒt get to speak for every kid at Marlinton Middle School or every kid in Pocahontas County schools. They get to say, itﾒs their right to say what they want their community to be,ﾔ Sarah said.
The students each stood up and said what kind of people they would like to have in the county and were in agreement that they liked nice people and did not want mean people in the county.
Of the 16 students in the class, two said they attend Trinity Baptist Church and four more said they were either related to or friends with someone who attends the church.
To share their feelings with the community, the students made posters that are hanging on the fence in front of MMS. Sayings on the posters include: ﾓOur Community Accepts Allﾔ and ﾓﾑOur Kind is Racist Free.ﾔ