'Community builder' to speak in GH

Krystle Wagner • Feb 27, 2018 at 4:00 PM

With the help of sponsors, Grand Haven Area Public Schools is hosting Calvin Terrell — an educator, speaker and community builder — to speak with residents and students early next month.

Terrell begins his three-day visit by speaking with Lakeshore Middle School students on March 6, followed by speaking to Grand Haven and Central high school students on March 7.

To prepare for Terrell’s visit, middle and high school students participated in a lesson about perspectives. Grand Haven and Central high school staff members will also participate in professional development training with Terrell.

Community members will have a chance to hear from Terrell on March 7. The Health Pointe-sponsored class will take place in the high school’s Performing Arts Center from 6:30-8 p.m. Titled “Violence or Virtue,” Terrell’s address will discuss ways adults can support inclusive and safe schools.

According to the event’s description, attendees will also discuss perspectives about violence. The goal is to “spark introspection and healthy proactive action on the part of parents, families and community members to collaborate with the school in creating holistically safe spaces for all to learn and thrive.”

On March 8, about 150 high school students will participate in a “Call to Warriors” program, which is aimed at providing them with a plan to carry out Terrell’s message.

During his presentations, Terrell will have a common message about interactions and “collaborative culture building,” said Mary Jane Evink, the Grand Haven school district’s director of instructional services.

“Students, staff and community members will have an opportunity to reflect on ways hurtful language and behavior impacts them and their community,” Evink said.

Evink said that Terrell tailors his presentations to be age-appropriate, and he shares each group’s role in working toward “inclusive and empathic communities,” and how they can contribute to an “inclusive culture.”

Students led the charge in bringing Terrell to Grand Haven. Students in the Calling All Colors group heard Terrell speak during a conference in 2016, which GHHS senior Makenzie Fairfield said was an impactful experience. Fairfield said the way Terrell spoke inspired her to take action.

When students were asked for ideas about new activities aimed at conveying Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and fight for equality, the Grand Haven Calling All Colors students recommended finding a way for everyone to hear Terrell speak, Fairfield said.

Evink said Terrell’s visit also ties into the district’s values and One Page Strategic Plan. There will be intentional training so that Terrell’s message continues beyond his visit, Evink said.

GHHS Principal Tracy Wilson said that Terrell’s message fits into the expectations they have for the building.

Fairfield, 17, hopes students will talk with their parents after their presentation and encourage them to attend the community event.

Evink said the community wants to be continuously welcoming, and it’s evident with the sponsorships for Terrell’s visit. Organizations such as the City of Grand Haven, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and its Youth Advisory Council, Health Pointe, Lakeshore Middle School’s yearbook, and Tri-Cities Kiwanis are sponsoring portions of the visit.

Ayebah Wilson, 18, said it’s “cool” to see the school district willing to support minorities in West Michigan and raise awareness.

GHHS Calling All Colors co-adviser Hailey Barton said it has been powerful seeing the community support students, who sometimes feel like they can’t make a difference.

“This has been amazing to see the community come around and support their idea and what they’ve worked so hard for and to get a chance to see their work pay off,” Barton said. “You really can make a difference.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring Terrell’s visit may send a check to: Grand Haven Area Public Schools, 1415 S. Beechtree St., Grand Haven, MI 49417.

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