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Principal's Message

Ms. Kate O'Brien

Hello Highlander Students, Families and Community, 

I am struggling with how to adequately communicate about thoughts, feelings, reactions and grief regarding our current events through email or social media. If school were in session, we would be actively engaging in conversations, convenings and lessons with our students about the impacts of institutional racism and state of affairs in this country, but due to physical distancing, we need to find different ways to connect over difficult topics. We cannot be afraid to discuss race; in fact, it is critical to all of our future’s that we do discuss race and racism in the United States. I want to acknowledge the fact that I am a white, woman leader. It’s necessary that I note that, while I might not offer the exact right words through this communication, white silence is very loud. The leadership at Hazen is not interested in being silent.  

Since March, the country has been solely and rightfully focused on combatting COVID-19. However, another pandemic has been wreaking havoc for hundreds of years in our country – that of racism, bigotry and hate. We are once again facing the callous and unnecessary deaths of Black people across America.  

It’s important to remember that what happened to George Floyd did not happen in isolation. What happened to Amaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and too many others did not happen in isolation.  As a school team, we denounce these murders and we stand in solidarity with Black families and communities of color.  We commit to holding ourselves accountable for enacting justice and dismantling the systems that enable racism, bigotry and hate.   

To our students of color, we see you. We see your strength, your brilliance, your joy, and we see the pain, the anger and the struggle. We are here with you. 

And to our Black students, WE SEE YOU. We see all of your humanity and we see the urgent need for change. We are here with you. 

If you need support, you are not alone; we and community partners can help. Please contact teachers, counselors or any member of the admin team if you need support or resources on how to talk with your families about race or trauma.  We will be actively preparing ourselves to serve in both support and leadership roles with our students and community.   

Unfortunately, racism is an inextricable part of the history of American culture and public schools. Educators must work together to combat our own biases and the existing structures that work to keep oppression and marginalization of students of color in place in public schools. As

America is in crisis, our staff will continue to arm ourselves with compassion, with knowledge, with research, with experiences and with hope for the future of inclusive public schools. We will need to demonstrate our commitment through transparent actions and ask to be held accountable to our mission.  

I want each parent to know that when your student comes to Hazen, they are loved. They are supported. They are encouraged to reach their highest potential and pursue their greatest dreams. We see them. We support them. We will work in partnership to ensure they feel safe and valued in our classrooms and hallways, every day that we have the privilege to serve them.    

I wish you rest and wellness,  
Kate O’Brien 
Principal, Hazen High School