High school students in Shoreline tackle tough issues adults often avoid

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At a time when it seems harder and harder for us to talk about tough subjects like race, religion, and politics, students at one local high school are making the effort.

At Shorecrest High school in Shoreline they have created a forum open to all students that meets once a month.

“We’re just trying to listen, and realize we can co-exist if we are willing to listen to one another,” said Nathan Nzanga, a senior at Shorecrest.

"It was hard at first,” said Abby Seliga, a senior and part of the school government that helped organize the forums. “We got a lot of questions asking what good will it do, or will it even help.”

But the students behind the race and equality forums felt like they had to try.

Following the election, they saw too many heated discussions on line.

“We have a facebook page for our school, and it’s mainly meant to promote school events,” said Alaiyi Lawson, a senior. “But it just became a platform for people to argue and debate.”

So students are invited to talk it out during study period. They are randomly assigned to tables, and guided by questions. On this day, they are talking about religion, while sharing their experiences, and most importantly, listening.

"I’ve learned that truly everyone does have a story, and everybody has something that they’re going through,” said Nzanga.

Those involved say it is working. They’ve seen less negativity on-line, and more understanding face to face.

“It’s very powerful for the students to feel like they can take into their own hands their school climate and culture,” said Johanna Phillips, a teacher who helped organize the forums.

And it’s not lost on these students that they are doing something many adults can’t seem to do these days: have an open discussion about the tough topics a lot of us are avoiding at the dinner table.

"Parents and adults I talk to say, when they were younger, they never had anything like this, an experience where they share and learn,” said Lawson. “It starts with a conversation, and I feel like the kids now will benefit a lot from having that skill and foundation later on in their life."

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