November 14, 2016
To members of the Greenfield School Board and Community,
Our names are Madison Foltz, Rachel Onusko, Ryan Kline, and Makenzie Olaker, and we are proud alumni of McClain High School. Currently, we attend Ohio University as Cutler Scholars thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Will and Ann Lee Konneker and the continuous support of the Greenfield community.
With recent events that have happened in our beloved hometown, we feel that not sharing this letter would do an injustice to the values instilled in us by the town of Greenfield. These values include integrity, community, grit, and growth. While it would be much easier to stay silent, we have learned that staying silent also means staying apathetic. If we are apathetic and do not share our voices, then the investment that Will Konneker and the Greenfield Community has made in us becomes worthless and wasteful.
Recently, a banner was displayed at a Greenfield McClain football game that made a trivializing reference to a horrific event in our nation’s history. We are very glad to see an apology on the school website and to hear that McClain and Hillsboro are raising money for the Hopewell Center. This is an important first step; however, we do not think this does enough. One part of the apology says, “[… ] the sign was created out of ignorance, not hate.” While this is true, ignorance cannot excuse a lack of critical thought, as such an absence leads to the halting progress and the degradation of other cultures and identities. The website also says, “McClain High School will immediately use this moment to further educate our students on the atrocities faced by both the Native American and African American Cultures.” This short-term response is great, but we are calling for a long-term plan.
While this mistake, on a national scale, is already beginning to blow over, let us seize this opportunity for improving inherent biases. Let’s take this moment to educate our students on more than just this one incident. We should not wait for ignorance to teach us a lesson. Let’s implement programming where we have hard and uncomfortable conversations. The discomfort is worth it—growth does not occur without toil and stretching of the minds.
With no plan for action, our talk means nothing. To engage a community that is geared towards progress, let’s proactively implement a long-term plan to help suppress the risk of behaviors that do not truly represent our community. We would like to be a part of a conversation with the Greenfield School Board while the lessons learned still provide a window of opportunity for change and growth.
We ask again that we, as a community, care enough to employ the positive opportunities for learning and growth that have come from recent happenings within our town. We are looking forward to discussing and brainstorming ways to advance the progress of McClain High School, school of beauty.
With love and with pride,