OLIVETTE, MO (KTVI) – Students gathered along the sidewalk outside Old Bonhomme Elementary School in Olivette Monday afternoon, chanting and holding signs.
They yelled, “No place for hate. Mean words hurt. Choose to be kind,” while holding up signs bearing similar messages.
Staff members say a couple weeks ago, an African-American female crossing guard was the victim of racial epithets after she enforced traffic rules around the cross walk.
Fourth grade teacher Leah Crawford said, “And there was a car that tried to pass two cars and go through the intersection, and she stopped them. They pulled over and proceeded to yell racial slurs and other hateful words at her. And then another driver on the other side of the street yelled racial slurs at her as well.”
That’s what prompted the student demonstrations Monday. Old Bonhomme staff members say they explained to students what happened, and then helped students organize a way to get past it.
Tammy MacLean is Old Bonhomme Diversity Chair.
“They got right on board and were ready to support our OB family,” said MacLean. “And they got out here and made signs and were ready to do it.”
District parents have taken notice of the stand taken by students. Parent Jami Cohen could be seen taking pictures of the student demonstrators on her smart phone.
“They teach kindness every day inside school,” said Cohen, “and I think it’s great the kids have taken ownership of this.”
Another parent, Mercedes Primus, agreed, “I think it’s beautiful what the school is doing with our children.”
Staff members say the student demonstration is not likely to be a one-time deal. And they hope whoever insulted the crossing guard sees how the community is responding.
“We don’t know the people who were using inappropriate language in our community,” said art teacher Lisa Roth. “But we assume they will drive by another day. And maybe that day they’ll see us out here peacefully telling them we will not accept it nor tolerate it.”