Volume 91, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

grape vine


Student newspaper designed to ease racial tensions in Halifax

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

Students at Cole Harbour District High School in Halifax are fed up with racial tension at their school and have begun working together on a new school newspaper in hopes of resolving it.

The Cava-Chronicle is one way students at Cole Harbour have decided to stop racism within the school as well as the community. The 12-page newspaper is written mostly by students and is growing rapidly, said Mike Whitehouse, guidance counsellor and coordinator of a newly established community anti-racism group at the school.

Cole Harbour has been the centre of numerous racial incidents since 1989 which have been big issues in the local media, explained Stephen Kimber, director of King's College School of Journalism in Halifax. He advised the high school in the early stages of developing the newspaper.

The last incident involving violence occurred in the fall and closed the school for two days, Kimber said. Two boys, one white and one black, were suspended as a result of the incident but returned to the school only to fight again when they saw each other in the hallway, even though their parents were present, Kimber said.

"Our community is split into two parts – the north and south communities," said Melinda Barkhouse, a grade 12 student who helped start the newspaper. "A lot of the fights that were going on were between the two communities."

Soon after the fight between the two boys, parents, students and staff at the high school gathered together in hopes of building bridges between the different cultures in the community as well as those in the high school, Whitehouse said.

The newspaper was only one of many ideas the community devised. They have also started a peer leadership group, a black mentorship program and an anti-racism group called STAR – Students Together Against Racism.

Barkhouse believes there were too many negative feelings circulating in the community and more positive ones were required in order to stop racial tensions. "The newspaper is a great way for the students to express themselves and create positive [feelings]. There are opinions pages and a poetry corner where anyone can get involved."

The expressed interest by the local community continues to grow, Whitehouse said. Many students are working hard on advertising and fund-raising and printing costs are currently being taken care of by donations from the community, he said.

"The community has been really supportive. We recently received a $250 donation and always hear about what a great idea it was to have started [the paper]," Barkhouse added.

The Cava-Chronicle is being published monthly and is distributed to the homes of high school students as well as local grocery stores and community centres.

"There's been a definite improvement in the school," Barkhouse said. "I've been seeing a lot of the students start laughing again."

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998