On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election, school counselor Paul Farrand noticed sadness, fear, and uncertainty in his students.

Paul works at a charter high school in Chicago, and he wanted to help his students, but he said he didn't know how. He felt personally fearful about the hate he saw on social media directed toward his students, most of whom are black and Latino.

Then, the following day, he walked into the school and saw something beautiful.

Two students had put up posters on classroom doors that morning before school.


Posters showing support hang at a school in Chicago. Image by Paul Farrand, featured with permission.

The powerful signs read:

"Dear Undocumented Students, in these classroom there are no walls."

"Dear LGBT students, in these classrooms you are accepted."

"Dear Female students, in these classrooms you will be respected."

"Dear Mexican students, in these classrooms you are not a rapist nor a drug dealer."

"Dear Black students, in these classrooms your lives matters."

"Dear Muslims, you are not terrorist."

With these posters, the students reminded the adults at the school (including Paul) that there is hope around every corner.

They reminded everyone that their voices must not be silenced.

"I'm continually inspired and encouraged by students and forget how strong they are and how quickly they process everything while moving toward solutions quicker than I have," Paul said.

In the midst of fear and uncertainty, these students looked toward what they could control. They created a safe place within the school and the classrooms.  

Image via iStock.

"They help ensure students HERE are respected, are treated as they should, even if it isn’t happening the moment they leave the school grounds," Paul said.

Even better, the staff started following the students' lead after these signs were posted.

The students' strength spread through the school, too, creating a feeling of hope Paul said wasn't there before. The kids are starting to believe that if they wish to see change, it should start with them, and that's inspiring.

Paul said that now, he and his fellow teachers are enacting their voices with and for their students.

Because our next generation gives him hope that love will overcome hate, and that's worth hanging onto.

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