Tag Archives: KDL READS

School News Network: Wyoming High students take tough topics with police

From left, Wyoming Public Safety Department Lt. Jim Maguffee, Sgt. Brian Look and Wyoming Public Schools Resource Officer Rory Allen talk to Wyoming High School students.

Erin Albanese

School News Network


It was a question teenage girls of color don’t often get to ask white police officers. “What do you think of the Black Lives Matter movement?” asked Wyoming High School junior Tracy Nunez-Telemin.


As part of a panel of police officers visiting high school students, City of Wyoming Lt. Jim Maguffee shared his thoughts.


Junior Tracy Nunez-Telemin asks officers for thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.

“First of all I want to say that black lives matter,” Maguffee said. “That’s an important tenet to get across.” He said he doesn’t agree with everything the movement stands for because he thinks it draws incorrect conclusions about policing. Still, he sees its positives.


“I vehemently feel that public discourse is part of what makes America great,” he stressed. “The fact that people can come together and form a movement and call it Black Lives Matter and march in the streets and demand to be heard, man, that’s what makes us so strong. That’s not common around the world. That’s a great thing.”


No Subject Off Limits


In a country where hot-button issues have become increasingly divisive, Wyoming High School students and police officers sat down in the media center to talk about a variety of issues. Police brutality, illegal immigration and diversity on the police force were all addressed by officers queried by students. They said they have sworn to protect everyone in the community, regardless of immigration status. “We are everybody’s police,” Maguffee said.


Junior Tony Joliffi asks officers about experiences making quick judgment calls

The purpose of the panel was for students and officers to learn from each other, teachers said. Discussion spanned a whole school day with several groups attending hour-long sessions. Panelists included Maguffee, Sgt. Brian Look, Wyoming Public Schools Resource Officer Rory Allen and Officer Pam Keen.


It was part of the junior class’ annual book study, in partnership with the Kent District Library’s KDL Reads program. Students read “All American Boys,” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, a novel about a fictional African-American teenager who is assaulted by a white police officer. The event is witnessed by a white classmate. The repercussions that follow divide a school, community and nation.


For the past three years, juniors have participated in KDL Reads, and compiled essays to create their own book based on themes from the book study. This year, juniors are writing about social justice. “All American Boys” authors are scheduled to visit March 27.


Creating Community Dialogue


Including a visit from police officers in the book study was a way to offer different perspectives in a humanizing way, said English teacher Joslyn O’Dell, adding students often have negative perceptions of police.


“Having actual police officers come in here to create a positive interaction with them will help them move forward,” O’Dell said. “It’s so important we have open dialogue.”


“We wanted to open up the communication between our students and our local police so they can start to see those perspectives,” added media specialist Melissa Schneider, who helps coordinate the annual book project. “It was a hard (topic) because it’s controversial.”


Raul Valdez inquires about diversity on the police force

Wyoming High School has a very diverse student body and addressing racially charged issues can be difficult, she said. “That’s what we wanted to teach them, (that) there are ways to have those difficult conversations that can be meaningful versus just attacking and assuming.”


About Black Lives Matter, Maguffee said he hopes a result of the movement is progress in working together. “I think it’s great that they exist to the point that we can have a good conversation about how to make things better,” he said.


Junior Raul Valdez asked about diversity represented on the City of Wyoming Police Department. The police force is made up of a majority of white males, though there are black, Latino, female and officers of other ethnicities, officers said.


It’s always a drive to match the diversity of the department with the community, Allen told students. “In reality, you guys are the community and when we talk about diversity, ideally you want the police department to look like the high school here, and you’ve got a pretty diverse school.”


‘You Guys are Doing it Right’


As school liaison officer, Allen said he has to respond to very few problems at the high school where 25 countries are represented in the student body. “You guys are doing it right… For the vast majority, everybody plays nice together… It speaks a lot to you guys. Old people like us could probably take a lesson from you guys.”


Junior Tony Joliffi said he appreciated the officers’ visit. “It was a good experience for not only me but everyone in here to hear from police officers,” he said, noting that it reaffirmed his view of police as community protectors. “It was relieving to know that the view I wanted to have of police officers was actually true.”


Maguffee said he it was important for him to attend. “I have an opportunity to come in and talk to these teenagers face to face, learn each other’s names and talk about this problem. Any chance we can do that, we’ve got to seize it, because that’s what’s going to fix things eventually,”


Check out School News Network for more stories about students, schools, and faculty in West Michigan.

Poetry Slam Competition makes its way to Kentwood Library

poetry slam
Spoken word poetry slam competition to be held at Richard L. Root Kentwood Branch Library

By: Barri Tiggle


Kentwood (Richard L. Root) Branch library is hosting its first live and uncensored spoken word poetry slam competition on Tuesday, May 17 from 7-8 pm.


There were up to 300 entries from Kent county residents between the grades of 6 through 12. The event is free and open to all general public. The event was created based on the original 13th Annual Teen Poetry Contest held at the KDL branch.


“We decided to add a spoken word component in an effort to breathe a little life into the event, and hopefully attract a segment of kids who otherwise have no outlet for their creativity,” said Greg Lewis KDL Teen Paraprofessional.


Poets are supposed to submit their work online in hopes of being selected. “We amped it up to get more teens involved,” said Carlita Gonzalez, KDL Program and Outreach Specialist.


There are two different categories for the competition, which are written and spoken word. Any submissions are automatically added into the competition.


“GF Korreck will be judging the written portion only,” said Kelsey May, a member of The Diatribe Staff. The Diatribe is an organization used to empower individuals through written and spoken word. Their values consist of helping others cope with challenges and struggles, while finding their own voice and story through the use of poetry. The Diatribe will be participating in the KDL poetry slam event as the master of ceremonies, also known as emcees.


Each winner will be given a prize. The prizes given away are centered on a book and music theme and will be provided by Schuler Books. 20 winners will be chosen, ten from the written portion and ten from the spoken word, and given a $50 gift card. All winning entries will be showcased on the KDL website’s Teen page. As of right now the event is not set as an annual event.


“As long as there is interest, we hope to offer this event, we are definitely planning on next year,” said Lewis.


The entire event is in correlation to as well as funded by KDL READS. For more information on the KDL poetry slam event or upcoming events with The Diatribe please visit kdl.org or thediatribe.org.