The situation at a soccer game at Niskayuna High School on Tuesday, Oct. 9, brought to light broader issues of respect and civility that are important to reflect on as a school community. We stand for a welcoming, respectful environment and oppose intolerance in all its forms in each of our schools and as a district.
The investigation into the events that occurred at the game is continuing. Yet, it’s important that we take a step back and talk about how we can learn from this and move forward as a community. Although the issues at play are not unique to our community, we are responsible for what takes place here and the example we set for our children.
First, I want to commend the many students from Niskayuna and Schenectady for the character and leadership they have shown in recent days. Students suggested bringing members of the two student bodies together for dialogue about these important issues. We have been in touch with school leaders at Schenectady to help make this happen.
The situation was addressed with students at the high school today by Principal John Rickert over the loudspeaker. We are focused on how we can expand discussions about issues of respect and civility with students at all levels, in an age-appropriate manner, in the near future and over the long-term.
Interscholastic athletics is an extension of the educational experience and the focus should be on a sportsmanship, teamwork, and encouraging our student-athletes to learn and grow. This extends to all participants and spectators. Part of Mr. Rickert’s message this morning was that it is not acceptable to taunt opposing players. We expect our teams to compete hard, we also want to be known as a community that displays class and sportsmanship, win or lose. Please help reinforce this message.
I also want to note the steps that our district has taken proactively to address issues of diversity and equity at all levels in recent years.
This year, we added the position of equity coordinator to serve as a resource to students, families and faculty/staff. Matt Grimes began in this position last month.
The equity coordinator grew out of our Environment and Culture Advisory Council (ECAC), which has an active Diversity Subcommittee.
All district administrators and faculty members from each school are currently engaged in Generation Ready’s Equity Institute, eight full days of training geared toward building an equity action plan in each of our schools.
Thank you for your attention to this message. As a school district, our mission requires us to identify what we can learn from every situation and come together on behalf of the education of our children. We are committed to doing just that.
Cosimo Tangorra, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools