Students wore KKK gear

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LIBBY WIL­SON

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.’’

PHOTO: TOKO­ROA HIGH SCHOOL

Students walked around Toko­roa High School in this head­gear as part of a so­cial ex­per­i­ment for a project on the Ku Klux Klan.

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