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‘Rainbow of Mothers’ Help Kickoff Michael Brown Program for Social Justice & Leadership at High School

WELLSTON, MO -- For many members of the Normandy community, Michael Brown is more than the name that launched a movement. He was a friend, classmate, a family member, and a son. His death was personal for many in this close knit community, including many students at Normandy High School.

     Six years later, the Normandy High School staff has created a way to help honor the legacy of Michael Brown while working to instill important values and characteristics in its current students.

     The Normandy High School Michael Brown Program for Social Justice and Leadership will hold the second part of this program on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Special guest speakers will be the mother of Michael Brown, Lezley McSpadden-Head; Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; and Marian Tolan, mother of Robbie Tolan.

     This session will also feature special messages from Dr. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, superintendent of the School District of University City, and member of the Ferguson Commission; and Dr. Terry Harris, executive director of Student Services at Rockwood School District, and co-founder of The Collective STL, a health and wellness group. The program is geared toward sophomores and will be held via Zoom.

     The timing of the program’s launch -- shortly after one of the most contentious election seasons in this nation’s history -- is intentional.

     “Given what has happened and continues to happen in our communities, the pandemic, and the rising tensions around racial justice, our students need a lot of support and encouragement,” explained Nakia Douglas, principal at Normandy High School.

      “Students want to process what happened and know ‘where do we go from here?’” said Isaiah Melendez, assistant principal. “This will help create that space for them.”

     This monthly program will focus on a variation of the theme ‘BE’, for example, BE Powerful, BE an Advocate, BE Courageous. For the November 16 event, the focus is on wellness. Thus, the theme of this event is BE Well and will feature a session with Dr. Terry Harris of The Collective STL.

      In addition to the guest speakers, the program will also feature discussions with students on the recent presidential election and coping strategies for COVID-19, as well as performances by students and local musicians.

      Students will also be challenged to do a legacy project in honor of Michael Brown, who was known to spend time in the music department. The project is to raise funds to build a recording studio in Brown’s honor. Students will also present a challenge to the community, encouraging residents and families to support upcoming school community service projects like a toy drive.