Signs of celebrating social justice months may be scarce


Photo by Nancy Sanchez

A display in the Commons at West Chicago Community High School honored Black and LGBTQ+ celebrities during the month of February.

By Nancy Sanchez, Multimedia Content Creator

March marks Women’s History Month, dedicated to honoring women, but the hallways and classrooms at West Chicago Community High School show few signs of tribute, raising questions about the school’s acknowledgement of social justice issues and events.

WeGo Global, a student-centered club, has worked on quite a few activities in regards to social justice months throughout the years. Last week, the organization is hosted a gender wage gap bake sale, as it does every year, in honor of Women’s History Month.

“I really like what WeGo Global is doing because they almost always seem to be doing a charity or some kind of group work that raises awareness about a diffrent thing. It almost seems like monthly, and if not bi-monthly, they have new and interesting things, and it’s always good to see that they’re very often doing things to raise money, not just raising awareness,” Library Assistant Blue Kubica said.

Blue worked on a display shelf in the library promoting Black History Month; the display featured books written by Black authors or having Black protagonists. According to Blue, these shelves promoted the history behind the month. 

However, beyond the display in the LRC and another in Commons, there were few noticeable tributes to Black History Month in the hallways, nor in classrooms.

“I think the school itself doesn’t do very much to promote these months. It could probably benefit from having announcements or activities to do with the different months. However, they end up being well-known, thanks to the clubs at the school. The clubs have more specific focuses, so it’s much more common to see fundraisers or activities coming from the clubs that promote these months well,” senior and executive board member of WeGo Global, TJ Tipton said. 

Photo by Nancy Sanchez

Schools such as Downers Grove South, Lyons Township, Palatine High School and College of DuPage publicized tributes surrounding Black History Month, and research indicates these schools, as well as others in the area, attempt to represent social justice months in some way. College of DuPage, also known as COD, started February by honoring Black History Month by hosting a gallery opening, during which the “Afrikan Dance & Music Institute attend and gave a lively demonstration.” 

As to why there is no major tribute to these months though WEGO, the reason remains unknown.

“Part of it is that some of the students were nervous, like ‘how can I speak up about a community that I am not a part of?’ and I think that is part of the learning process. Part of social justice is using your voice and using that privilege that you might have on how you can speak up about other people,” Social Studies teacher and WeGo Global adviser Maggie Haas said.

Recognizing social justice issues and celebrating important cultural and historical achievements is something the administration feels is a worthwhile cause.

“Anytime a student can see themselves or see models of really good career achievements or really good social achievements in themselves or in historical figures who look like them, I think that is always going to make someone always feel more welcomed and a part of the school. So as much as we can do that, I think that we’re on good solid footing,” Principal Dr. Will Dwyer said.

Distinguished alumni are recognized on a digital display near Entrance B. According to Dwyer, this is one of the efforts to showcase those who have made an impact on WEGO. (Photo by Nancy Sanchez)

Part of that effort includes representation in the classroom and the halls.

“The bigger picture is we want kids to see themselves here, see other people who look like them and they can imagine themselves in that,” Dwyer said.

A survey conducted by the Wildcat Chronicle in February revealed that students and staff had mixed opinions as to whether the school’s promotion of social justice months was adequate. Throughout the school, there were various displays for Black History Month, and the new Distinguished Alumni touch screen slide show contains multiple graduates of different identities and what they have accomplished, allowing others to see what one can achieve despite their background. According to Dr. Dwyer, these efforts are designed to encourage students as well as help make them feel welcomed. 

Still, some survey respondents felt the efforts were not enough, and more could be done in the classroom and through extracurricular activities to honor these moments and people in history.

People tend to look at social justice where it’s just a lot of angry people screaming all the time. And I think that’s a myth that really needs to be dispelled. Because I think there is nothing angry about people wanting to have some leave of equality within the United States. A lot of people are complacent in thinking that everything’s fine. Those people may think it’s fine because it’s fine for them, and it may not necessarily be fine for everybody,” Haas said.