Local students hold peaceful demonstration after racially insensitive photo surfaces on social media


JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — High school students from a few Johnstown schools gathered today shortly after 10 a.m. for a peaceful demonstration outside Westmont Hilltop High School after a racially sensitive photo surfaced on social media last week.

One student says this all stemmed from a debate that students were asked to participate in last Friday on Black Lives Matter Protesting.

Later in the day, a photo from a Westmont student surfaced on Snapchat, leading to today’s demonstration.

“It wasn’t because we wanted to get out of school, it wasn’t because we wanted to make problems for the school, it was just simply because we want to be heard. There’s so many things that happen that the principal, assistant principal they don’t do anything about,” said Jayden Sanderson, a student, Westmont.

In a statement, Superintendent Thomas Mitchell acknowledged the demonstration and applauded students.

“We are disheartened by the image posted on social media attributed to the Westmont Hilltop School District. Unfortunately, the actions of a few can tarnish the good works of our students and our school district. We are all upset and disappointed by the social media post and will address the situation in accordance with the school district’s policies. We applaud our students and community for peacefully exercising their right to assemble and speak out against hate. As a school district, we remain committed to a school environment that is welcoming and safe for all students by working with community partners to build tolerance and understanding within and beyond our school community. We will grow from this situation and continue a dialogue focused on the appreciation of diversity.”

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