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Students call on school district to do more to promote diversity with 'Dear Highland Park'

In a letter and YouTube video, dozens of students asked Highland Park ISD to advocate for hard conversations surrounding race in its community.

HIGHLAND PARK, Texas — Calls for racial justice and equality have reverberated through countless communities, leaving few age groups unaffected. That includes a group of several dozen Highland Park High School students of all races who banded together to have their voices heard about this moment in America.  

In a YouTube video entitled "Dear Highland Park," students call on the school district they love to be better. Rising seniors Chris Moreland and Emilie Hong know it can be. 

"I reached out to a couple friends and I was like 'Hey, are you interested in doing this?" said Hong.

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She and a diverse group of dozens of students came together to share how they feel about race in their school and city community on paper and on the internet. In the video, students like Moreland shared information about the city and school’s history.

"I’d say definitely just to try to educate people as best as possible," said Moreland, of his goal of being a part of the video.

The clip also comes with a challenge for Highland Park ISD.

"We wanted to be listened to and we wanted to just see some changes in policy and curriculum," said Hong.

Some of those changes are inclusive hiring, diversity training and regular conversations in class about race. Superintendent Tom Trigg says he is listening, and responded in a statement, writing, “You ask in your video, can we do better? Yes, absolutely—and we will.”    

These students aim to see that through.

"I feel like we were born and put here at this very specific time for a very specific purpose, and I feel like we’re starting to live that out," said Moreland. 

The students shared this additional statement with WFAA: 

“We created this as an informative video to shed light on the issue of race in our community and to use our voices in a way that could not be ignored. The support of alumni, teachers, community, strangers, friends, and family has been extremely healing and has helped to give fellow POC the strength to speak out about their own experiences with discrimination. Being a person of color in Highland Park can be an isolating experience, and for that reason we are grateful to WFAA for amplifying our voices. We hope that this video sparks difficult conversations, accountability, and action to reconcile all of our communities’ past and future interactions with race.”

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