Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Week of spring break taught lessons

Kids anxious to talk about shooting, riots

By Jennifer Mrozowski and Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nearly 42,000 students in Cincinnati Public Schools returned to school Monday after their spring break, a week in which the city endured its worst civil unrest since 1968. Educators seized the moment to turn the riots into a learning opportunity.

        Teachers said many students needed to talk about the April 7 incident in which Timothy Thomas, 19, was shot and killed while fleeing police, said Jan Leslie, CPS spokeswoman.

Exploring racism
        At the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Pendleton, two forums were held for about 150 ninth- through 12th-graders.

        Many students concluded that while they can't change others' views on race, they can change their own - and those of their future children.

        “There's going to be racism wherever you go,” said junior Tynisa Powell, 17. “The only way we're going to change something is if people change themselves.”

        Students also said the Cincinnati Police Division may need to change how it trains officers and that city government needs to communicate with residents.

        After the forum, senior Jamayal Douglas, 17, said, “I think we need to move past the violence and on to solutions.”

Sympathy for losses
               Eighth-graders at Washington Park Elementary in Over-the-Rhine wrote condolences to the owner of Deveroes, which lost seven stores to looters. The clothing store is popular with students.

        At South Avondale School, seventh- and eighth-graders wrote letters to City Hall, conveying ideas for solutions.

        Washington Park Elementary was in the eye of the storm as last week's protests spilled into adjacent Washington Park. On Monday, giggling children on the playground were heard instead of chants in the park.

        As in all CPS schools, Washing ton Park teachers met with their principal before school.

        Tamiko Engleman, a special-education teacher for second- and third-graders, said her 12 students initiated the discussion about the riots.

        “They talked about how stealing was wrong,” Ms. Engleman said. “They didn't want to see anyone get hurt. One girl said she thought she didn't have much of a spring break. She was angry about that.”

Fears for safety
               At Bramble Academy in Madisonville, some students said they didn't feel safe coming to school, said Principal Christine Robertson.

        “Kids were expressing concern about guns coming to school. That's something that never happens here,” said Mrs. Robertson, adding that last week's events fueled those fears. “Kids were also concerned about people turning on their own neighborhoods.”

        Rosaland Robinson, a fifth- grade teacher, expected her students to spend a few minutes discussing the riots. The discussion lasted 1 1/2 hours.


Race commission will take lead in recovery
Previous race reports ignored
Report promised soon on beanbag firings at crowd
Police chief disarms critics
Citizens police review panel feels excluded
Grand jury may get case in a week
Heimlich, Luken at odds over handling of riots
Store owners hope for aid from city, feds
City to tap resources of businesses
Reds not expecting problems
End of curfew brings relief
Mayor Luken's views
PULFER: Why didn't we see this coming?
Black youths speak of change
- Week of spring break taught lessons