Carrboro Commons

Unity Dinner brings Carrboro High School together

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 in School news by jock

By Megan Walker
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Carrboro High School students (top L to R) Fatima Castillo, Brittney Green, (bottom L to R) Antonio Brewington, Sheterra Jones and Jamika Belk sign the unity banner at the Unity Dinner on Feb. 24. (Staff Photo by Megan Walker)

Carrboro High School students gathered Feb. 24 in the cafeteria and gym to conclude the school’s Black History Month celebration with its third annual Unity Dinner.

“We all have friends of different races. We have black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends sitting all at one table, and we are together as one,” said Dolce Gonzalez, a student and event volunteer.

“The Unity Dinner is a dinner that brings us together as one big school and family,” Gonzalez added.

Principal Kelly Batten opened the evening’s performances.

“You have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate, because as you look back in Google searches about Carrboro High School, you’ve come a long way, baby,” Batten said. The introduction was met with loud applause across the gymnasium.

Batten’s comments hinted at the school’s past racial tension.

Three years ago, a fight broke out at Carrboro High School after a white student made racially charged comments to a black student.

The following year, amid the ensuing dialogue about race relations, the Unity Dinner was born.

(L to R) Teon Dolby and Molly Sharp sing “Stand by Me” at Carrboro High School’s Unity Dinner. During the performance, Dolby grabbed the microphone and belted out one of the choruses. (Staff Photo by Megan Walker)

English teacher Al Donaldson, one of the initial and current leaders of the event, said, “The dinner is an idea we actually borrowed from the tradition at East Chapel Hill High School.  Our school Equity Team decided to start it in the 2008-2009 school year.  The goal of the Unity Dinner and the performances that follow it is to celebrate community and Black History Month.”

Latin teacher Sara Clay said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for families and school denizens to gather together to enjoy a good dinner catered by our cafeteria and hear our students in performance.”

“Carrboro is a young school and is eager to build and support a community,” she said.

Families sat together to share a free meal provided by the school as the school’s jazz band serenaded them from the corner. Students performed throughout the night.

“The best part of the Unity Dinner is how it provides our diverse school a moment to celebrate developing traditions together. To build community, it takes unity as the foundation,” Batten said.

Students helped not only with performances but with decorating and even sweeping the cafeteria floor before the event.

“The students are organizing most of the event,” said first-year student Candice White. “We usually come up with the ideas and what we want to do. The teachers just try to help us out and help us improve. They let us be really creative.”

The night’s events also included a performance by the school’s step team, students performing songs and poetry presentations. Original poems inspired by an assignment in Donaldson’s English class were performed by White, Jasmine Farmer and Caroline Yarnell.

“I think it has opened people’s eyes. No matter what race you are, we are all in the same world, and we’re all trying to come together and bring everyone together,” White said.

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