How schools are helping students process the Derek Chauvin Trial

SPOKANE, Wash. — Many are relieved after the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict, but also believe it’s only the beginning.

Students from college to kindergarten are watching and still processing what’s happened.

Schools in Spokane are now stepping up to provide a safe space for them to do it.

At Gonzaga University, that safe space was at a Post-verdict Community Gathering this afternoon, filled with students and staff showing support for their Black community members and peers.

“It’s such a huge turnout. It’s really awesome to see,” said Gonzaga junior Grace Portch.

Some even spoke up about what it is they were feeling after the trial.

“I am simply thankful for all of you who are here,” said Gonzaga University Crime Prevention and Education Officer Phillip Tyler. “Who stand with us. Share our emotions, experiences, frustrations, fears and the ideas to face these tough times and build community.”

The event was a place to exhale after the verdict, but also realize there’s more work to be done.

“I’m hopeful that will perhaps open up a conversation a serious conversation for more police reform and opportunities for us to talk about how we prevent these circumstances from happening to begin with,” said Gonzaga Vice Provost of Student Affairs Kent Porterfield.

And that conversation can start as early as grade school, because even the youngest students are watching what’s going on, too.

“I think a lot of us think ‘Oh, kindergartners wouldn’t know about that or think of it,’, but they are very aware of the climate and culture that’s going on,” said Madeline Sells, a counselor at Grant Elementary School.

She says she’s been open about the George Floyd incident and the Black Lives Matter movement with her students from the beginning.

Sells described her students as being ‘happy’ today about the verdict, but she believes the conversation should continue at home.

“Parents have so much more influence on their child than even I do,” she said.

And if you don’t know what exactly to say to your child, just ask open-ended questions and gauge their comfort level from there.

“Did you see the news? What do you think about this?,” said Sells. “It’s never too early to have those conversations with kids.”

READ: Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder and manslaughter in death of George Floyd

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