Maplewood And Jackson Co. Students Participate In Diversity Exchange
By Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - High school students in one Metro school are taking part in a new social experiment. They're being paired with students from a rural school to see how they interact. The experience is meant to show students a new reality and teach them a broader lesson about how to treat each other.
Just by the looks of it the students from rural Jackson County High School and Maplewood High School in Metro are different in many ways.
"Maplewood is really big and we have more African Americans than we have white people, or Asians, or Latinos," Maplewood High School 11th grader Kenna Raymond said.
"When we was on the bus ride up here all my friends, you know how they're predominately white they were like oh gosh I hope everything is going to be alright," Jackson County Junior Joshua Welch said.
But spend some time here and the differences become harder and harder to notice.
"A lot of the stuff we like, they like," Maplewood Senior Mayra Saavedra Rodriguez said. "Like the type of music, or how we like to spend the weekends or whatever."
"I think this will be [an] eye opener for a few people," Welch added.
This is both school's first diversity exchange program. Two weeks ago Maplewood students went to Jackson County High.
"I actually thought it was going to be like one of those white schools where they get more money because they're out in the country," Saavedra Rodriguez recalled. "So they would probably have more, better computers and better looking things than we do."
Now Jackson County students are at Maplewood. They've partnered for a program meant to shatter biases and address issues like bullying.
"My partner we act exactly alike and you wouldn't figure that being from two different sides of Tennessee," Raymond said.
Both schools serve high poverty students and are working hard to drastically increase student achievement.
"It doesn't matter what color you are, we all have the same problems," Welch said.
Both are learning lessons that won't ever show up on an exam....
"It was fun and it was exciting and I would like to do it again," Megan Smith, Jackson County 10th grader said.
But they're lessons that will be put to the test as students approach the rest of their lives.
The hope is that students can take what they've learned and change their small circles and ultimately enhance the overall environment in each school.