High school students show support to Muslim community

High school students show support to Muslim community
A group of Valley High School students are showing their support for the Muslim community, a week after the deadly attack in New Zealand. (Source: Taylor Durden/ WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A group of Valley High School students are showing their support for the Muslim community, a week after the deadly attack in New Zealand.

The high school has a group of 14 students and two adults called commUNITY, that focuses on bridging the gap between immigrants and minority cultures in Louisville and Louisville natives.

“We’re community and the unity is in all capital letters to show that we need to come together,” Covington explained. “This is important. These are things that need to be talked about, conversations that need to be had.”

At the group’s meeting on Thursday, the students talked about wanting to show the Muslim community their support.

“Their whole thing is we’re all one community, one group,” Jennifer Vermillion, Valley High School teacher and CommUNITY sponsor, said.“A lot of our students don’t have extra money just to donate, so they’re like what can we do to show our support. So then they were like why don’t we just make a banner.”

Valley High School seniors Aniya Covington and Breanna Woods are part of the commUNITY group.

“We’re trying to get people to understand you can accept various different things but you don't have to necessarily believe in it,” Covington said. “It's just like respect. You have to have respect for different cultures and religions and things like that."

Covington, Woods and more than a dozen of their classmates started creating a banner Thursday. Students painted handprints in different colors and added the words “We Stand United” across the paper. On Friday, they had other students sign their names.

“It’s important to me because I know how it could feel for people to not accept you and not being as open or willing to you,” Covington said. “So it just meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to [the Muslim community]."

On Saturday, they delivered it to the Muslim Community Center of Louisville, with lots of families and children around.

“It touched me,” Woods said. “It was very nice. It made me feel great that something so simple could touch so many people.”

Vermillion said it felt overwhelming as they delivered the banner because of all of the people around and the appreciation the Muslim community had.

“All the parents and everybody kept coming up to us and thanking us,” Vermillion said. “We're like we didn't do that much. We just wanted to show our support.”

Huda Kutmah was at the Muslim Community Center when the students delivered the banner. She said the past week has been tough, but the support from the community is what is helping them through it all.

“For them to go out of their way and drive all the way up here and give us this form of support, it really means the world,” Kutmah said. “And it really shows that no matter what age you are everyone has a heart and everyone shows love in different ways.”

Imam Muhammad Almoutem said they have received flowers and notes from families and people across Louisville over the past week. He said though some may see the banner as simple, it’s much more than that to him.

“For the Muslim community to receive that kind of support from the school, our neighbors, the students, the future in front of them, it means a lot to us,” Almoutem said.

Community activist Khalid Awad said seeing high school students step up to offer support gives him a sense of hope for the future.

"This is what's important. They are the seeds of peace, they are the seeds of support,” Awad said. “They are our tomorrow. If I see that our tomorrow is those kids feeling that we are one, we are united, this brings happiness to my heart."

The Valley High School CommUNITY group meets Thursdays to talk about cultural diversity. They are inviting the public to join them Thursday, March 28 at 6 p.m. at the high school in the small gym.

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