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Local middle school students attend Prejudice Awareness Summit

Local middle school students participate in the 2nd annual Prejudice Awareness Summit.
Local middle school students participate in the 2nd annual Prejudice Awareness Summit.
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Middle school students from eight schools met at the Second Annual Prejudice Awareness Summit on Tuesday to learn how to “Break the Cycle: Be the Change."

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities led the program at Randolph college. Students and educators from central Virginia-area public and private middle schools, including schools from Appomattox County and the cities of Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Staunton talked about diversity, discrimination, and respect.

Jessica Hawthorne is the Director of Programs. She said at the end of the day -- students will leave the summit with action plans.

"Some students have chosen to take an assessment of, 'how often are we hearing these hurtful phrases? Where are we hearing them? Do people stand up? Why not, and what are the ways we can encourage people to stand up?'" Hawthorne said.

She said other students take a more proactive approach, like some Appomattox Middle School students. They came to the event last year, then started a club called "PART: Prejudice Awareness Response Team. "

Jazmine Klinedinst is an eighth grader there. She said it's all about teaching students how to be respectful and understanding of others.

"I feel like it's a needed thing in schools," Klinedinst said. "Just to show that everyone is different, but everyone can always be kind."

She said middle school is a tough time for a lot of people, so it's important that students be aware.

"It's a lot of social media and behind-the-scenes stuff," she said. "But I feel like if we talk to the kids and do different activities, it will speak to them and they won't do it."

Klinedinst said she hopes more students who attend the summit will go back to school and use what they learned to help others.

"If someone is being left out I always try to include them. If it's a bullying situation; tell an adult or try to stop it and see what's going on," she said.

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While this class was for middle school students, Hawthorne said they are holding a program for high school students in March.

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