Bay City Western alumni introduce scholarship for peacemakers - WNEM TV 5

Bay City Western alumni introduce scholarship for peacemakers

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Tension over race and diversity in a local community is being countered by the efforts of parents and students using love, understanding and inspiration at a Bay City high school.

While the Confederate flags may no longer be flying near Bay City Western, parents and students say tensions remain high.

A positivity rally took place on Monday to bring people together and announce a new scholarship available for Western students who want to be peacemakers.

“It troubled me to see the community portrayed this way,” said Greg Dardas, Bay City Western alumnus.

Bay City Western will always be home to Dardas. It’s where he graduated high school and it’s where he sent all four of his children.

That’s why the recent events on campus have impacted him so greatly.

“I certainly recognize the rights of freedom of speech and I don’t try to know what’s in the hearts of other people, but flying the Confederate flags is somewhat of a provocative act,” Dardas said.

Even though the flags are no longer up in the school’s parking lot, one parent said the issue is far from over. She didn’t want to be identified, but she said the recent events have now engulfed the entire student body.

“When they have their sports games here now, the other schools are calling them names and calling them racist names because they go here,” the parent said.

She said her child is being bullied for simply trying to keep out of it, as are many of the kids trying to take the high road.

“It’s sad that all the kids are being bullied at Western now because of a handful of children who thought they were right and now it’s being taken out on everybody and it’s really sad,” she said.

The positivity rally was held Monday morning at Williams Township Park. People were invited to join the conversation in promoting positivity in school and the community.

“Watching the events unfold last week I think many of us are sitting back shaking our heads saying that is not our school. That’s not what our community is all about. We welcome everyone. The educational process is for everyone. We want to be a diverse and open community. And we didn’t like the way it was being portrayed out there. We said we wanted to have a positive community event,” said Jill Gushow, Bay City Western alumna.

Event organizers said the rally was to raise positivity, but they also announced a brand-new scholarship available to Western students.

Gushow said there’s a lot of good in the Bay City Western community and they want to shift the focus away from the negativity.

“That scholarship is to promote positive race relations, strength through diversity and social justice and it will be awarded this year for the first time,” Gushow said.

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