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NHS Student Council Recognizes ‘Village’ at First Community Unification Dinner

The Normandy High School Student Council recently hosted the It Takes a Village Awards and 24:1 Unification Dinner to honor members of the Normandy Schools Collaborative community who have gone above and beyond for students. The district also introduced its new Circle of Life Restorative Initiative and Mentorship Program in partnership with the North County Police Cooperative and 24:1 Clergy Coalition.

Duane Foster, Normandy High School dean of students and long-time fine arts instructor, worked with student council members on this new initiative. 

“Our students have a lot to say about what happens in our community and some really great ideas as to how to make it better,” he said. “And one of the ways is to get our community more involved with what’s going on in our district.”

In addition to the students, Foster also teamed with local police. He ran into Chief John Buchanan of the North County Police Cooperative after another awards program earlier this year. 

“There had been a fight at the school earlier that day and I was really in a bad space and I think Chief Buchanan recognized that,” Foster recalled. “After COVID and just with what a lot of our students deal with, we need a way to let them know that the village is not going to turn their backs on them. They need us. We have to be here for them.” 

Foster and Buchanan met and started working with other officers of the North County Police Cooperative to brainstorm ways to provide mentorship to students. The result is the Circle of Life Restorative Initiative and Mentorship program. 

Beginning in August, members of the 24:1 Clergy Coalition, North County Police Cooperative, and Normandy staff will meet monthly with students to just talk about what’s going on in their lives. 

“A lot of our students, especially our young men, don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves, or don’t know how to do it in a way that is productive,” Foster continued. “They need the space to do that so that they can get the feedback to move in a positive direction.”

To reintroduce the community to the high school, the NHS Student Council also recognized members of the 24:1 at the dinner for their work in the community. Awardees included: Michael Casimir, principal violist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra who taught classical music classes remotely; Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge, NHS alumna, Principal at Edward Jones, Missouri Board of Education member, and major contributor to NSC Fine Arts program; Romalus Tabb, alumnus and NHS assistant basketball coach; Kim Morris, longtime resident and major supporter of NSC; and Nathaniel Griffin, mayor of Wellston and youth basketball coach.