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Cape High seniors share thoughts on race

Cliques, lack of communication among top concerns
June 6, 2016

Six Cape High seniors shared their experiences as African-American students in the classroom and school community during a forum May 10 hosted by the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice.

“There's a lot of cliques,” said panel member Suprenia West-Burton. “There are students whose parents own a lot of property, and then there are the so-called blue-collar kids.”

Erykah Miller said there is a racial divide among academic classes at the high school. She said there are African-American students in college prep classes, but most students in Advanced Placement classes are white.

“I would need to take AP to see other races,” she said. “The school has a lot of cliques. Students need to come together.”

Marnae Duffy said she is part of the Friends at Cape program, which works to build camaraderie among students.

“I do venture out and talk to students I don't know,” she said. “You have to put yourself out there.”

DeAndre Sheppard plays sports and said he has made friends across the school population through athletics. But besides sports, he said, there is little to bring students together.

“There's a lack of communication between students,” he said. “We need to get to everyone.”

The lack of communication includes teachers, Suprenia said. There are some who do not communicate with students at all; others do not engage students in class discussions, she said.

“They don't force us to talk. They only ask the kids who they know have the answers,” Suprenia said.

Hykeem Evans said he sees kids sleeping in his classes, and teachers will walk by handing out packets of class information and say nothing to the student.

“I don't get how they don't see it,” he said.

All six students, however, agreed there are teachers who they can connect with and talk to. They overwhelmingly named a small number of African-American educators at Cape High: Bill Collick, JROTC Sgt. Richard Hurt and Robin Savage were named frequently.

“Sgt. Hurt will make you participate,” said Tyquenze Brittingham. “He's going to change your attitude.”

Hykeem said he would like to see more African-American educators at the high school.

“It's crazy how few there are,” he said.

According to Delaware Department of Education statistics, about 12 percent of the staff is African-American at Cape High and about 2 percent is Hispanic; there are five African-American teachers and one Hispanic teacher. The student body is 66 percent white, 15 percent African-American and 14 percent Hispanic.

The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice meets monthly in Lewes. The next meeting is at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 14, at the Trinity Faith Christian Center, 15516 New Road. For more information, email jayschiavo@comcast.net.

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