The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

The Student News Site of North Polk High School

The Orbit

Diversity at North Polk

Minorities at North Polk and their Expiriences
Pie chart of the student diversity of North Polk High School by U.S. News and World Reports.
Pie chart of the student diversity of North Polk High School by U.S. News and World Reports.

It is no secret that the North Polk School District is not the most diverse in the state of Iowa. Though the district is not at fault, and though the community continues to diversify as the district grows, this has not stopped some minority students from feeling unwelcome at times. 

With the total enrollment of minorities being less than 8% at North Polk High School (NPHS) as of 2024, it is easy to assume that these students may not have the potential to have the community feel that more diverse schools may have. Though this may not have as big of an impact on some students, a bigger problem lies within the experiences that some students have dealt with as people of color. 

A questionnaire sent to the people of color (POC) population at NPHS showed that two-thirds of these students had been targeted by either a racist remark and/or “joke.” Some students shared their accounts of these incidents explaining how they had been called derogatory terms, stereotyped and more. 

Furthermore, when asked if NPHS was a safe and positive environment for minority students on a scale of one to five –one being no and five being yes– the most answered was a three, with more votes ranging on the lower numbers.

Pie chart for the question “Have you ever been the target of a racist remark and or “joke”?

For those that answered “yes,” the following questions regarded whether they brought it up to the school administration and how their case was handled. In personal interviews with some minority students they explained the severity of these instances. 

“There’s a lot of n-word calling, monkey noises and racist jokes” one student stated. They moreover explained that a common joke is when peers call their name whenever fried chicken is being served due to a common stereotype of their race. 

The students that answered “yes” to the first question then became divided on whether or not they brought these instances to administrators, with the majority stating that they had not. 

Some of the reasons as to why students chose not to varied, with some explaining that they felt it was something they had to deal with and/or that it was not worth their time. One student even expressed “whether administration ever does something about a racial problem or not, I feel that it is not the safest for minorities to report incidents or racial slurs thrown at them because then they will get made fun of and a bigger target because they told.”

A former minority student shared their experience with racism at the school, and told how they were called derogatory terms on multiple occasions, even having screenshots of these messages. They then recounted the occasions in which they had been called a “c*on” by a peer on multiple occasions, a racial slur used on Black people. This student moreover explained that they felt if they reported it to the administration “nobody would believe [them] and wouldn’t do anything about it.” They ended with explaining that these incidents were the reason for them leaving the school.

The idea of the administration not acknowledging these cases, though some might hope to be untrue, has been seen through students explaining that they had no knowledge of any repercussions for students that they have reported. 

“Administration told me that they care about my well being and safety and that they would hold whoever they did accountable but turns out they never did anything. They just talked to the kids and the kids denied everything, of course, and they left it at that. No consequences or anything were put in place,” explained a student. They furthermore added that it became exhausting to bring things up and ending with no avail.

Other students who claimed to have reported the incidents explained that they went through the same process as the student above. One student made the comparison of these incidents to another accusation: “if I hit someone but no one else sees it I can get away with it? But also why would someone lie about getting called a slur?” 

Another former student explained that the problem was not just with the people who said remarks, but also those who knew of these incidents and did nothing. They expressed “[people] know what they hear and the racist things kids say…and yet they do nothing.”

With the continuing diversification of the North Polk School District, it is important for the minds of present and future students to be open to the harmful nature of words and actions. Furthermore, it is just as important to change one’s ways of thinking if they become aware of this harm and make North Polk a safe and inclusive place for everyone, not just the majority.

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About the Contributor
Zoe Marquez
Zoe Marquez, Newspaper Editor
Junior, Zoe Marquez is the newspaper editor for “The Orbit.” She explained, “I decided to join the newspaper because it seemed really interesting as well as it builds connections.” She plans to gain writing and editing experience by being an editor throughout the rest of her high school career.  Marquez is busy at school with both DMACC and AP classes. Outside of school she has many hobbies to fill her time. “Growing up not knowing English, reading and writing give you a sense of achievement.” Marquez also enjoys watching Netflix and making time for friends and family.  While Marquez has no definitive plans for the future she knows that this class will give her many necessary skills for any career. “It’s going to help me professionally, as well as help me grow better communication skills,” explained Marquez. 

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