KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On Tuesday, community leaders, elected officials, educators and officers came together to work on changing high school culture in Kansas City, Kansas.
Organizers say it was a plea for volunteers to come forward, and connect with students, with hopes of taking that weight off their shoulders and end the violence.
The meeting comes one week after a stabbing at F.L. Schlagle High School that left one student injured.
“Now these kids with cell phones, you get into a fight, [and now] you get into a fight a thousand times,” Joseph Straws III, with Men for Change Community Crisis Coalition said. “Because that fight is reliving itself over and over on social media. It's a continued trauma in some of these kids’ lives and it creates anger and frustration, they wear that on their shoulders.”
Now, the group hopes to talk with the students to avoid that from ever happening in the first place.
More than 40 people showed up at Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ in KCK.
KCK principals, teachers, the superintendent, police, parents and community members say they want to see change in the city's schools.
Tueday's meeting was a call to action, and they say their goal is to connect with students and change the school's cultures.
“So that we can curb some of the anger, the fights, some of the behavior that’s been going on inside our school buildings,” Straws said.
Straws says they’ll continue to build a community crisis coalition with school parents.
“The only people, men, that’s going to change this school, plural, is the black men,” Rodney Boston, with the KCKPD OK Program said.
“A lot of our students are making decisions that are detrimental to themselves and others don’t feel like they have anything to lose or live for,” Dr. Anna Stubblefield, KCKPS Superintendent of Schools said. “So we really have to figure out what it is and how we can motivate them.”
Robert Vargas with Warriors 4 Wyandotte also weighed in on how things could change.
“Being present on a consistent basis here in our communities, in our homes and our hallways,” Vargas said. “That’s how you create change.”
It's a change the community leaders say they need help making.
“When people say it starts at home, yes it does, but it does and doesn’t,” Straws said. “I’ll say it like this, it’s easier for us to attack five high schools and the culture of five high schools than it’s easier for me to attack 22,000 homes.”
The Wyandotte County Sheriff-elect and District Attorney were also in attendance.
District Attorney Mark Dupree said he encourages the group to be proactive and to tell students the truth.