During the week of January 11, students and staff at the Capitol Region Education Council, also known as C.R.E.C., are hosting a Racial Justice Action week. The goal is to educate one another about the importance of equity, diversity, and racial and social justice.
Each school has teacher-created lessons that align with district work and C.R.E.C.'s mission of bringing awareness to racial justice.
Students and staff of all ages and ethnicities will have a seat at the table to learn and grow together.
"We can inform our students and learn more about their experiences," said Natasha Miles, the visual arts department head at C.R.E.C.'s Greater Hartford Academy Arts Program. "We invite students to share their truths while being active listeners and learning how to be empathetic during these conversations."
Teachers were tasked with incorporating racial justice topics into their regular curriculum.
"Students are going to be able to use their visual artistic voice to create works that have meaning and have a message," said Miles. "We want our students to be able to present evidence of what they learned."
Voter suppression, the Black Lives Matter movement and supporting Black-owned businesses are some of the key topics being discussed from grades K-12.
"I feel like a lot of people can express how they feel about topics like this which is very suppressed and not talked about often," said Angel Castro, a junior at C.R.E.C.'s Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. "I think we are able to celebrate our differences and enjoy the fact that we're all here and we go through things."
Taylor Williams is a senior at C.R.E.C.'s Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and tells NBC Connecticut she looks forward to sharing her experiences and educating some of her peers.
"I'm definitely looking forward to putting my voice out there while using my artistic ability because I love drawing and I major in it," said Williams. "This week is a great time for other people who don't experience racism, microaggressions, and other struggles that people of color face."
Sasha Douglas is the superintendent at C.R.E.C. Magnet Schools and is spearheading the effort.
"We're trying to create an environment where we look at race and we look at identity as a strength and we each examine our own racialized identity and think about how it affects who we are," said Douglas. "We want our students to be able to raise a concern and understand that their concern is valid and should not be dismissed because you're a child or because you're a child of color."