PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Vestal Elementary in northeast Portland emphasizes the importance of teaching social justice to young students and sharing it with community members.
As filming this week remains a priority, they say it’s an important reminder to be able to come together.
Like many across the metro and the country, Vestal Elementary was left in mourning after the deaths of students and teachers in this week’s horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Principal Sabrina Flamoe says that’s why tonight’s event was all the more special.
“It’s been a really tough week, for all of us around the world, and especially in elementary schools. I just feel a lot of grief, so it’s been even more encouraging and exciting,” Flamoe said. been really tough, so highlighting and being able to celebrate being together as a community has been really exciting.”
Today, Portland Public Schools responded to families after the Texas shooting, with the district’s own safety measures like classroom door locks, controlled-access doors and behavioral safety assessments. Vestal Elementary says that while they hold lockdown drills and teach awareness, an important part of social justice is being able to go to school and feel safe.
“All primary schools have lockdown drills, so we talk about safety quite often with our kids and just be mindful and aware of your surroundings,” Flamoe said. “Yet we also want children to feel comfortable and safe. It is an extension of their neighborhood and their homes.
Vestal Elementary has spent the year teaching students about social justice, including racial and environmental justice, as well as what is happening in their communities. It all culminated in an end-of-year event highlighting what they learned, as well as building community partnerships with organizations like the nonprofit Montavilla Jazz and The Yard at Montavilla food carts.
“The great thing about social justice is that it’s kind of common sense,” said Neil Mattson, executive director of Montavilla Jazz. “We all want to care about each other, care about our community, and do things to help us learn how to make our world a better place.”
Flamoe says being part of the community and coming together makes all the difference for young students at her school.
“Having a community center or a community center or the school as a gathering place is always very important and is always one of our goals, but especially this week, with so much grief and grief, being able to come together, and literally just being together,” Flamoe said.
Flamoe added that with Vestal being along a busy corridor like NE 82, safety issues often come to mind, which is why they have extra precautions in place during school.