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OPS students host "What Youth Can Do" Rally

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jul 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-11 23:20:13-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha students are working to lead the change they want see in their school district, as a number of people showed up for the What Youth Can Do rally outside of Central High School downtown.

Omaha students say they're no longer being silent

"I've been told that the youth is our future, but if we continue to educate them in the same manner our future is no brighter today," an OPS student said.

"I think people are listening," Central High School Graduate Simret Habte said. "I think the louder we are, the harder we are to ignore and people learning and the important thing is people are looking to educate themselves and that's what we're looking to do here, educate people."

Students made their voices heard at a rally calling for social justice, racial equity and reform within the Omaha Public School District.

"We decided that we wanted to have a movement to create an organization that covered a bunch of demands that we felt need to be accomplished for all of the students in the district to have a better learning environment overall," Central High School Graduate Lauren Anderson said.

There are 5 demands.

First, student want the district to end its contract with police departments that provide school resource officers.

"We don't want security out of schools I feel like people get stuck on that point," Anderson said. "We still want unarmed security guards there, we just want armed school resource officers removed and that's because those unarmed security guards are often the ones that foster positive relationships with students as school resource officers are actually intended to do."

The students also want schools to focus on prevention, rather than reaction.

They'd also like to see more diverse honors and AP classes.

"A lot of times teachers and staff members will only value the athletic part that you do as opposed to valuing the type of person you are, and the brain you have and forgetting to highlight those important parts of yourself," South High School Graduate Jadriane Saunders.

The students also want more mental health resources, as well as a greater emphasis on Black History in the curriculum, including Omaha's Black history.

"The important thing about this is that Black Lives Matter is not political," Anderson said. "To us it's about human rights."

Allison Kinney-Walker, a mother four, says she's proud of the students and says it's important to teach her own children about racism from a young age.

"The more I can do to help them hear different messages is important and they do pick up on things both the positive and the negative," Kinney-Walker said. "So I want to start having those conversations early so that we can have a positive influence in a society that we know is still very racist and unjust."

The students leading Saturday's rally also said they've met with OPS superintendent Dr. Sheryl Logan and she's listening.

They encouraged everyone to speak up at the next OPS board meeting, Monday night.