Affton High School seniors Josh Krakos and Grace Ederer are leading the charge to eliminate hate and discrimination in their school.
Watch for a news feature on Josh and Grace, which should air during the evening news at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on KSDK (NBC/Channel 5) Friday, March 3.
Through their work with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Krakos and Ederer have organized events and established a student club, Students Fighting Hate (SFH), to bring awareness and education to both AHS and Rogers Middle School.
SFH meets weekly and holds facilitated dialogues around specific questions that relate to identity or culture. Through these facilitated discussions, students are able to talk about issues such as race, discrimination and identity.
“This year, Affton High School was awarded the pilot school initiative through ADL, who provided peer training and programming for our school,” explains Ederer. “So far, 14 students have spent over 20 hours being trained to become facilitated dialogue leaders, and we have expanded our reach to the middle school.”
In addition, this Saturday, March 4, students from across the St. Louis area, including McCluer North, Nerinx Hall, Jennings, Affton and others, will come together for the second annual Operation Anti-Discrimination at Affton High School. Held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., SFH will host three speakers who are civil rights activists and then will facilitate dialogue around what was heard, followed by lunch from area food trucks. Students can register to participate in the facilitated dialogue sessions, and the entire community is welcome to listen to the speakers.
“An example of a facilitated dialogue activity is called Here I Stand. One side of the room is designated as ‘I Agree,’ and the other side is ‘I Don’t Agree.’ We ask a question about a specific identity or cultural issue, and students line up without talking based on how they feel about that statement,” said Krakos. “We then have a baseline understanding of what others in the room are thinking. This helps lead students to talk through issues and learn from each other, rather than argue or ignore certain issues altogether.”
Krakos has been recognized for his efforts by the ADL’s A World of Difference Institute. Both he and English teacher Brian Jennings were awarded the inaugural David M. Grebler Memorial Award in November for their efforts with the ADL’s No Place to Hate.
SFH is also planning a Celebration of Cultures on April 15 at Affton High School. This event will feature food and information about different cultures and countries represented in the Affton community.
For more information on Operation Anti-Discrimination, click here.