Students encouraged to take a walk in Ruby Bridges’ shoesNov 30, 2023 11:51AM ● By Jet Burnham
Seventy-five students, along with their parents and teachers, walk to Falcon Ridge Elementary school on the morning of Nov. 14 to commemorate Ruby Bridges. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)`
A mass of students, parents and teachers streamed down the street toward Falcon Ridge Elementary school on the morning of Nov. 14. Principal Theresa Christensen invited Falcon Ridge Elementary students to put themselves in the shoes of Ruby Bridges, the young girl who bravely walked into a newly desegregated school on Nov. 14, 1960. About 75 students and their families met Christensen and other school staff members at High Bluff Park before school to walk the half-mile to the school.
Some students were chanting, some were waving flags from the goodie bags Christensen had handed out, and some were just thrilled to walk to school with their friends, but Christensen hoped they all were learning something.
“Our school has become very diverse in recent years,” Christensen said. “I felt it is an important event in history that led us to the wonderful learning we gain from having a diverse student body.”
A few days before the event, Christensen read two picture book stories about Ruby Bridges for her online Story Time with Ms. Christensen. She encouraged families to watch the stories and to discuss them to prepare for the commemorative walk.
Heidi Ah Sue watched the videos with her kids, a kindergartener and a second grader.
“I wanted them to know why we were walking and what happened with Ruby Bridges historically, that things aren't totally solved, but progress has been made,” Ah Sue said. She was glad that Christensen was bringing the story to students’ attention.
“You hear in the news about all these things in the South, about them wanting to remove any Black history and remove any mention of these kinds of stuff, and I’m very glad that in this relatively conservative state, that we're still teaching about this stuff,” Ah Sue said.
Many parents used the event as a teaching opportunity.
Julie Hopkin had her second and fourth graders research Ruby Bridges the night before to help them understand the reason for the walk.
Colette Parry used the story of Ruby Bridges as an opportunity to talk to her kindergartener and second grader about how they treat others.
“I approached it with my kids more just being inclusive, that we need to include everyone, and it doesn't matter what they look like, what they sound like, we're all different and we need to be nice to everyone,” she said.
Some Falcon Ridge Elementary teachers had a classroom discussion about Ruby Bridges and her experience.
“The kids were astonished that no one would come to school with her,” third grade teacher Joy Edman said. “They thought she had a good mindset about being there alone and respected her for praying about the people who were yelling at her. We had a rich discussion about emotions and how we can affect other people.”
There had been a small commemoration of Ruby Bridges a few years ago at Falcon Ridge but Christensen expanded the event this year with the support of community partner AAA, which provided a goodie bag, flag and bracelet for the participants. λ