Students wore KKK gear
Students in mock Ku Klux Klan headgear wandered around a Tokoroa high school last week.
Their peers yelled, said a few choice words, and one followed them back to class to say that behaviour had no place at Tokoroa High School.
‘‘The whole point of the activity is that this kind of thing has no place in any school,’’ social studies and geography teacher Dean Tereu said.
The white supremacist imagery got a strong reaction at Tokoroa High, where about 60 per cent of students are Ma¯ ori and 20 per cent Polynesian.
The experiment was how a nervous group of Year 10 girls decided to present their world history project.
‘‘[The idea] started with just putting on a hat and reading out to the class: this is the KKK, this is what they do,’’ Tereu said.
It grew into walking around the school in the headdress to observe people’s reactions.
The school asked that students involved not be named to protect them from potential backlash.
The surprised and angry looks on students’ faces will stick with one of the masked girls.
‘‘The experience taught me that people know what KKK is and that they are very negative against them.’’
The group was told it was stupid and racist, including by friends of another student, who didn’t know it was her friend under the mask.
‘‘The overall experience was pretty scary, but I was expecting the reaction,’’ she said.
‘‘If you just did a poster, you wouldn’t actually get the reactions.’’
The girls were told not to respond and Tereu was following at a distance.
‘‘We had people looking out windows, leaning out windows, a couple of people came out the door, said a few choice words,’’ he said.
‘‘I was really pleasantly surprised in a funny way that our kids were so angry and furious, because it meant they did know it was a symbol of evil,’’ Tereu said.
‘‘The saying goes that we remember 100 per cent of what we do and 1 per cent of what we’re told.’’
Students walked around Tokoroa High School in this headgear as part of a social experiment for a project on the Ku Klux Klan.