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Great Falls students participate in 'Live The Dream' forum

Great Falls students host 'Live The Dream' forum
Posted at 2:24 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 17:50:08-05

GREAT FALLS — In a display of solidarity and shared purpose, students from Great Falls High and CMR recently came together to celebrate Black History Month and explore the impact of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

It was an initiative put together by diversity groups from both schools, ‘We R Rustlers’ and ‘I M Bison’. This was the biggest event the two groups have organized and principals from both high schools explained how proud they were of the students who stepped up to make an impact.

Principal Geoff Habel of Great Falls High School said, “It's a group that came together for the purpose of trying to share culture and diversity throughout the schools. They want to expand the idea that we’re all human, spread the word about what culture sounds and looks like, and spread the message that we are all one.”

The event, held at the auditorium in Great Falls High School, saw students from different backgrounds and experiences explaining what King’s dream means to them in today’s world.

Shyrae Yellow Owl from CMR explained, “I’m going to put a more indigenous spin on it. A big idea I have in the speech is equal opportunity in the work force, in school, and just to be seen as equals with other people.”

For GFHS student Mariyah Hicks, this was an opportunity to share her culture and draw connections between King’s vision and her own aspirations. “I would say it makes me feel heard. I hope for the future that when I get done with my speech, when all the other speakers get done with their speeches, that they feel heard and that they feel understood in order for us to grow and move on and be the best people that we can be as one.”

Four students and one adult speaker shared stories and reflections of the past and their visions for a more inclusive future. As the applause echoed through the auditorium, it was evident that the exchange of ideas not only commemorated Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, but sparked understanding.

“I’m so proud of these students,” said CMR principal Jamie McGraw. “Some of the best work I think that we do as a school district really is inspired by our kids because it's what's important to them, what matters to them.”

(FEBRUARY 12, 2024) The Bison and Rustlers are known for crosstown clashes. But the two schools can agree on two important values - diversity and inclusion. And as Black History Month continues, a pair of diversity clubs at the schools are coming together and doing their part to promote those ideals.

“With both clubs, we really try to promote diversity and inclusion and try to get everyone involved and make sure everyone feels seen and heard,” said C.M. Russell High School senior Shy Rae Yellow Owl. The club’s advisor is Principal Jamie McGraw.

Great Falls students create diversity clubs

The Great Falls High group goes by “I M Bison.” Their advisor is Luis Carranza.

“We created this group mainly because there is a lot of minorities here in Great Falls that we wanted to reach out and let them have their voices heard and so we wanted to be very inclusive, but not only just for minorities and culture, but for all different types of backgrounds that may get judged,” said Great Falls High School senior Mariyah Hicks.

On February 21st from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Great Falls High School Auditorium the clubs will present an event called Live the Dream featuring speakers including students and Bishop Marcus Collins of Alexander Temple Church of God in Christ. There will also be food, music and a pop-up museum. While its designed to celebrate Black History month, people of all backgrounds are welcome.

“When you tie your culture to somebody else's culture or you connect with them in that way, it helps connect everyone as a community,” said Great Falls High School junior Tahlia Murillo. “So when you connect with that person and you find the similarities in both your cultures, it allows you to have a deeper connection. So, if we could do that with the whole community, it would be really great to get everyone here.”

“Anyone who comes can take something away from it,” said Yellow Owl who plans on attending Dartmouth College and majoring in neuroscience after graduation. “Whether it's a new perspective from just learning about other people, learning more about your community and or just being able to like feel seen and be able to see yourself in some of our speakers' stories.”

“At the end of the day, we are all human. We have different backgrounds, we have different stories, different cultural backgrounds and everything like that,” said Hicks. “And so, it gives a voice for those people who feel left out, who feel like they're not being heard. And so it also gives understanding for those people who don't have cultural backgrounds, who don't go through the struggle, who don't go through certain things.”

Hicks, who plans on attending the University of Washington and majoring in communications, says she and her family have felt the sting of racism and discrimination. Events like “Live the Dream” and clubs like “We R Rustlers” and “I M Bison” go a long way in changing perceptions.

“I believe this event is so important because it’s showing that we can go through this struggle, but we will take that and turn it into something great,” said Hicks.