Issaquah students say racist incident should serve as a lesson

ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Issaquah High School students say they want to turn a racist incident into a teachable moment.

“I was shocked and ashamed for the most part,” student Alex Liu said.

Issaquah High School sent into turmoil now in the national spotlight after a student made a racist sign.

The sign was used by one student to ask another student to a dance.  A photo showed two students holding the racist sign.

The school district calls the post appalling and racially insensitive and they are taking action.

“It`s unfortunate but it`s also a bad thing that put Issaquah out there in a bad way,” student Alex Benis said.

Student say they are surprised over the incident but Engu Fontama says she is not surprised. just hurt.

“It definitely was a little painful as I processed it,” Fontama said.

Fontama says she's compelled to turn the hurt into a lesson.

“It's a sad incident, but also it's a wake up call to our students here to know that yeah we have these issues if you don't speak up it will continue to happen,” Fontama said.

The senior says students need to keep other students accountable.

Fontama and other student leaders are also brainstorming new ways and activities to promote diversity and racial sensitivity.

“There is a lot more work that needs to be done to make sure this kind of ignorance and behavior isn't happening again,” Liu said.

Students, however, say they are encouraged that Issaquah High is not sweeping what happened under the rug.

“I haven't seen anyone at the school justify what she said, validate what she said,” Fontama said.

Student Benton Owens says one incident does not define them.

“It doesn’t represent the majority,” Owens said.

Jimmy Santiago agrees with Owens and he credits administrators for handling the situation quickly and openly.

Santiago says if anything the incident has brought people at Issaquah High closer.

“It shouldn't define Issaquah what should define us is how we bounce from this,” Santiago said.

They are bouncing back with a new social media post promoting an event called Walk Out Wednesday.

Students say they want to take charge of the narrative to show the public that racism is not condoned at this school.

Student say many teachers and administrative are supportive of the walk out which will start at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

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