School, students and community react after Trump and race come up in student’s speech

BY KYNLI SMITH
What started off as an innocent speech by a high school student who was addressing the entire student body and eighth graders attending freshman orientation quickly turned south after statements were made that offended some the students listening.
According to Principal Tony Anson, the student was asked to impersonate a presidential candidate during the speech and the student chose to impersonate Donald Trump.
The student began to point at Hispanic students and instructed them to get behind the wall.
“I don’t think it was a racial slur really,” said Anson. “She pointed at couple Hispanic students that were her friends and told them to get behind the wall.”
With the often harsh political rhetoric used in the upcoming presidential race, many are wondering how that is impacting students and others are questioning how a school can help protect and prevent racial slurs from happening.
The Trump effect
A recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The Trump Effect: The Effect of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools” found that children of color are more fearful and are having more anxiety due to the Trump presidential campaign.
The report stated, “Our report found that the campaign is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.”
This type of Trump campaign rhetoric found its way into a student’s speech at RHS a couple weeks ago.
“The student impersonated Trump during her speech,” said Anson. “She didn’t say that Mexicans should get behind the wall. She pointed at a couple of her friends and told them to get be-hind the wall.”
Stephanie Garay, a parent, was concerned after her kids came home from school and told her about the incident they witnessed in the RHS Gym.
“I don’t think the student was being malicious,” said Garay. “And I don’t think the school or the community is racist. But the student didn’t make the best choice.”
Garay added that she doesn’t think students understand what Trump means when he says he is going to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out.
“There is lack of education about what he is saying,” Garay said. “My daughter thinks they are going to send us back to Mexico and I have to tell her no they aren’t.”
Anson said he hasn’t seen the Trump type of rhetoric but that they encourage political talk and debates in the school because that is how you teach political science, history and current events in the classroom.
RHS senior Brittany Morton said Trump’s celebrity might be having more of an impact on students.
“When a person sees a celebrity on TV they kind of think they are a leader and follow the ex-ample they see,” Morton said.
The residual effect
Some of the students that attended as well as their parents were offended after hearing that a student pointed at Hispanics students and told them to get behind the wall.
“I was there when she was giving the speech,” said an anonymous RHS student. “I couldn’t stand people laughing and pointing on the students who need to be on the other side of the wall. It really upset me. I was crying because it really affected me. What made me so mad is that she pointed at the students and said their names and no teacher stopped it or said anything to her,” said an RHS student. “No one is going to do anything about it. It affects so many people.”
According to the government website, stopbullying.gov, research is not clear how often kids of the same group bully each other.
It states, “Research is still growing. We do know, however, that Black and Hispanic youth who are bullied are more likely to suffer academically than their white peers.”
However a Penn State student reported that 16 percent of students who are bullied believe it is based on race or ethnicity.
“I have to have thick skin sometimes and I think people need to grow think skin,” said RHS senior Cole Hill. “Some of my teammates are Mexican and we have a good time and we are just friends. Either way, nobody takes offense. Race doesn’t break apart a friendship at all.”
Students who attended the speech and their parents were also concerned about the lack of re-sponse from teachers and administration after the comments were made.
“I just wish the principal would have stepped up right then and there and said that was not appropriate,“ said Garay. “I don’t think this is racist school or community. My kids have not had any racial gestures toward them but there have been some that have.”
She added that her children are a little worried about going into high school now. The excite-ment they had is still there, but it is clouded by anxiety and concerns of being pointed out for be-ing Hispanic.
Garay’s daughter, Alicia Garay, was one of the eighth graders attending orientation and heard the speech as well and was also very concerned and upset from the comments.
“As the acting superintendent, you’d think he would’ve said something more,” Garay said. “This isn’t even the first time people are being racist in our school. They can’t just let it swing by; it’s getting ridiculous.”
Another student who was unhappy that no one stopped the speech when those comments were made and had a conversation about how racisms can affect people is eighth grader, Eloise Long.
“I think the speech was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t funny at all,” Long said.
She was concerned about the other minority Hispanic students, because like them, she is also a minority and will be the only black student in the school next year.
“We try to do our best and try to make every student sensitive of others,” Anson said. “We, like any school, have staff in the hallways. We just try to pay attention. We have more instances of bullying versus racial instances. We try to do what we can.”
Anson said that after the speech was made students who were offended or pointed at during the speech were able to speak to a counselor. He said there is not a race problem in the school.
“I think the people outside this school and community took more offense than the people that are here,” Anson said.

RHS

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A Day of Celebration

Community, local, state and federal officials attended ribbon-cutting ceremony at South Big Horn County Hospital

BY KYNLI SMITH

It takes a village to expand a local hospital. That was clear when community members, local, state and government officials gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at South Big Horn County Hospital on Friday. All of them played a role in making the expansion happen.
Gov. Matt Mead, representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wyoming legislators, local government officials and community members huddled together in the ambulance bay of the new emergency room to escape the harsh winds and smoke blowing down from the wildfires in Canada to celebrate, meet those who made the expansion possible and tour the facility.
The ribbon cutting was unique with the multiple ribbons presented and cut by different peo-ple who had a role in making the expansion possible, from community, to state and federal offi-cials-all took turns cutting a different stand of red ribbon.
“This is great partnership; it is local partnership, a state partnership and a federal partnership. All of which were critical in getting this done,” said Mead. “But none of this matters without the grit and determination of this community and of the board and so today were are celebrating this facility, but we are also celebrating what it takes to get a facility up like this and that is that never-say-die, Wyoming attitude to never give up.”
With the completion of the new expansion that includes impatient services, an emergency room, kitchen and storage, the hospital finished phase two of its renovations which began in 2010 with the laboratory and radiology.
The second phase of the project cost close to $10 million and was paid through more than $2 million in hospital funds, a 3.9 million loan from the USDA, a 2.9 million grant from the State Loan and Investment Board and $150,000 from the Big Horn County consensus block grant.
“This phase here was made possible by money from the district which comes from revenue generated by patient services, also some tax money and money we also got from the state of Wyoming,” said South Big Horn County Hospital board chairman Jeff Grant. “But the big thing that closed the gap was the money we received from the USDA. So it was a partnership that made this occur and that really is a pretty amazing thing.”
Grant also took time to recognize former CEO Jackie Claudson who remains in a Colorado fa-cility recovering from what was described as a medical event that occurred in late December. Hospital staff filmed the ribbon cutting ceremony and open house to send to Claudson.
“One person who is not here who needs to be recognized is Jackie Claudson,” said Grant. “She played a huge part in the vision of getting us to where we are today. We are all disappointed she can’t be here. She is recovering in Colorado, but we hope to see her again soon. “
Claudson, who served as the hospital’s CEO for 21 years, was instrumental when the facility closed in 1994 and reopened as the first critical access hospital in the state in 2002.
“In Wyoming we have wonderful quality of life,” said Mead “But you tell a parent or business owner that if something happens you have to get in pickup truck in January and drive 50 miles all of the sudden it changes. And so when we think about this facility having been closed and not only reopened but expanded and made better, it is wonderful thing for the residents here, a wonderful thing for visitors as well that travel through Wyoming, and it is wonderful thing for economic development as well. Having a facility like this makes a real difference.”
Community members who attended the open house remember when the hospital closed and the fear of having to drive long distances to receive emergency medical care.
“It was scary when we didn’t have a hospital,” said Serena Lipp. “I had kids at the time and my son was bucked off a horse while branding an hour away from town on the mountain. His arm was just hanging there and I was scared to death while driving 55 miles to a hospital in Cody.”
Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland, added the importance of community healthcare and hospitals while on a tour of the new expansion.
“Why go anywhere else when you have this here?” said Geis. “You can’t beat it. And I know you will get better service here than in a big hospital.”
Mead added after a tour of the expansion that the recent predictions from the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group would affect the Department of Health. The CREG estimates that Wyoming’s revenue will decrease more than previously predicted. Mead has asked state agencies to cut their proposed general fund budgets by 8 percent for the coming 2017 fiscal year.
“I don’t see how it won’t affect everyone,” Mead said.
He added that he would like to revisit Medicaid expansion in the next legislative session, which would offer healthcare coverage to thousands of Wyomingites including those who are coal workers that have been recently laid off.
Some critics of Medicaid expansion claim that expanding it would hurt small hospitals like South Big Horn County Hospital, but Mead said that is not the case.
“The hospitals are actually for Medicaid expansion,” Mead said.
As for the future and the next round of upgrades to South Big Horn County Hospital, the board hopes to move forward with phase three soon which will include a new clinic. Phase four of the project would include the existing hospital to be demolished and phase 5 would include adding new administration offices, physical therapy, reception and main entrance.
“At the end of the rainbow is not gold but partnership,” said USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez. “We invest in people, not buildings.”
Board members said at last month’s meeting that they hope to visit with the USDA to talk about the possibility of another loan.

BREAK OUT BOX WITH PHOTO
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, South Big Horn County Hospital staff revealed a statute of “The Lady with the Lamp,” which depicts Florence Nightingale. Dr. David Fairbanks, whose grandfather was the sculptor of the piece, and his wife donated the statue to the hospital.
During the Crimean War she walked the halls checking on her patients at night she carried a lamp and that is how she became known as the lady with the lamp.
New nurses still recite the Nightingale pledge when they receive their pins at their graduation.
“Nurses today are thought of as being kind and helpful and they have an impact on sick and the hurting,” said hospital CNO Yvonne Bargeron. “Today, as we unveil this, it is National Nurses Day. It is a day that is set aside nationally to honor the nursing profession. Nurses Week also starts today and ends May 12, which is Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
“South Big Horn County has a wealth of very dedicated and very qualified nursing staff and we take great pride in honoring our nurses on this day with this new hospital and our qualified nursing staff we are prepared to move onward and upward to provide quality care to not only locals but all the surrounding communities.”

photo by Lisa Kunkel

photo by Lisa Kunkel

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Ready to train: Food service director is ready to share her knowledge with the state

BY KYNLI SMITH

Learning new tricks of the trade is what Big Horn County School District No. 4 Food Services Director Linda Osmond did recently.
She was one of two food services directors chosen by the Wyoming Department of Education to attend a national conference held at the Child Nutrition Institute at the University of Mississippi.
Osmond has been with the district working in food services for 13 years.
“I started working here when my son was in kindergarten and he is getting ready to graduate now in a few weeks,” she said.
The Department of Education fully funded Osmond to attend the two-day conference and take classes on food safety and how to train trainers.
“It was a really great experience,” said Osmond. “I got to spend a lot of time with professors and really learn a lot. Food directors, chefs, and state food officials from all 50 states attended the conference. It was great to hear all these different perspectives on how food servicing programs are run across the country.”
Osmond’s first class on food safety focused on the newest technologies, microbiology and on how germs are changing.
“Wyoming is doing a far better job when it comes to food safety compared to other states,” said Osmond. “Every district in the state is up to par on the federal level while some other states are barely starting the process to get on board at the federal level.”
The next class focused on how food trainers can train other trainers.
“There are lots of opportunities to change up the training in food services and make it more interesting,” Osmond said. “We learned a lot on how to get people more engaged and involved and plan on teaching this to other food services directors in the state.”
Osmond and the other food service director from Jackson plan on teaching a class at the Food Services Training Conference for the state in June. Osmond says every food director in the state attends the three-day conference.
Like teachers, Osmond says food services workers are federally mandated to undergo professional development. She hopes to help other people in the state get their mandatory federal train-ing.
“It was such a great experience to be asked to attend this training,” Osmond said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to teach others in the state what I have learned.”

Osmond

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