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“Without Diversity, Who Are We?”

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In the wake of an executive order banning refugees, students from South High School, some of them refugees themselves, spoke out Monday about the impact the order is having on them, their families and their school community. Denver Board of Education President Anne Rowe, Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova joined school leaders and educators in creating an open and safe space for students to share their stories and their concerns.

“My family arrived in search of a better life. Refugees should have the same opportunity. We can’t just ignore their dreams,” said one South High School senior, in front of an audience of nearly 70 students and educators.

Students at South come from more than 70 countries. The school near Washington Park in southeast Denver is a Newcomer Center, meaning it has programs designed to help refugees and others who have come to the United States with limited or interrupted education in their home countries.

During the discussion, students, both refugee and native-born, shared powerful messages, including:

“Without diversity, who are we? What is America without diversity?”

“Looking back at history, I wish I could have had a say. Now I do, and I will fight for what is right.”

Participants also had a unique opportunity to listen to stories from students who fled their war-torn countries, many without their families. DPS leaders thanked students for sharing their voices and provided words of encouragement.

“We need to see diversity as a source of strength, not fear.” said Superintendent Boasberg.

“Hope and love are always stronger than fear and hate,” added board President Rowe.