On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Head of School Tom Dillow gave a powerful speech denouncing the anti-Semitic and racist attacks our country has experienced in recent weeks.
After the racially charged shooting at a Kroger store in Kentucky on Wednesday, Oct. 24, which claimed the lives of two people and the anti-Semitic shooting at The Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, in a well known Jewish area of Pittsburgh, the world as well as the KO community were left in despair.
Mr. Dillow felt that it was very important for the community to discuss these recent heavy and devastating happenings. “When things happen, it’s important to come together as a community to debrief and say what do we learn and turn tragedy into lessons.”
Mr. Dillow touched on the fact that as a nation we don’t acknowledge how much racism and anti-Semitism has been on the rise, but we must no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be.
“Too often adults, whether teachers or parents, shy away from events like that because it’s hard to talk about and we feel like we don’t have right answers, but I think when we don’t talk about it that we make a mistake. We lose an opportunity to draw lessons that are important.”
Students agree that these tragedies are getting all too common.
“The fact that people in America are getting killed for their religion is horrifying,” senior Jacqueline Dugan said. “I couldn’t imagine the pain the family and friends of the victims are going through as well as everyone else who was touched personally by the attack. It’s also awful because some of my best friends are Jewish and I’m horrified that they have to be worried about the anti-Semitism in America in 2018.”
Mr. Dillow’s speech was very well received by the students.
“I thought Mr. Dillow’s speech was very good,” Jacqueline said. “He touched upon sensitive topics that have not been addressed a lot at KO, and I think what he said and how he said it was very important and well done.”
After the speech many students mentioned how powerful and emotional Mr. Dillow’s words were and many students appreciated that the headmaster recognized how these events could have affected the student body. Through acknowledging recent events and thus discussing it to the student body, KO is formulating a safe environment for people of all genders, religions and identities.
Mr. Dillow delivered his message with great sincerity and poise.“It was very impactful, and you could tell that everyone in the audience was really listening because it was so quiet,” senior Lian Wolman said.
Senior Adam Sonntag agreed.“I thought that the speech was very heartfelt and he was brutally honest about the current situation we’re in as a country, and I was glad to hear someone talk about it as a whole, not just one shooting, because we’re all members of the same country.”
Junior Sophia Kaufman took Mr. Dillow’s words to heart. “As a Jew, this shooting influenced so many people and our community in such a negative manner,” she said. “With his recognition of all these events going on, it helped to inform our student body and how one’s actions are so important.”
Mr. Dillow also pointed out how important civil discourse is in regards to disagreements and differing opinions on political topics. With the country being so divided as shown by the recent midterm election turnouts, this is especially key.
“It is our responsibility as empathetic individuals to be thoughtful about the words we use,” he said.
His words of wisdom touched even the youngest of the high school. “Mr.Dillow’s speech opened up my eyes to the fact that although these horrible things are happening in our world, we need to accept it in order for change to happen, and that will only occur when we choose kindness and love,” freshman Makenzie Caruso said.